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Hosts Australia capable of withstanding World Cup injury crisis: Catley

CANBERRA, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Australia's stand-in captain Steph Catley has declared the Matildas are capable of withstanding an injury crisis to progress to the FIFA Women's World Cup round of 16.

Speaking hours after Mary Fowler and Aivi Luik joined star striker Sam Kerr and Kyah Simon on the Matildas' injury list, Catley backed her teammates to step up against Nigeria on Thursday night.

"It's just how we gather, it's how the rest of the squad bounces back and performs in a high-pressure situation in the biggest games and I think that's something over the last few years we've really developed," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"We've got a squad that is capable of winning games at any given point, no matter who's in what position.

"I back every single player that's out there, and hopefully the girls get healthy and are ready to get back into the squad very quickly."

The Matildas are second in Group B with three points, after Canada beat Ireland 2-1 on Wednesday to go top on four points.

A win against Nigeria in Brisbane would see the Matildas qualify for the round of 16.

Both Fowler and Luik suffered concussions in separate incidents in training on Tuesday, but could be available for the final group match against Canada in Melbourne on Monday.

Kerr is less likely to start in the match, with coach Tony Gustavsson expected to take a cautious approach with his star player.

It means Caitlin Foord is Australia's only available striker against Nigeria, with midfielders Alex Chidiac, Emily van Egmond or Tameka Yallop her most likely forward partner.

Gustavsson said he was not underestimating Nigeria - the lowest-ranked team in the group - after they earned a 0-0 draw with reigning Olympic champions Canada in the first round.

"We know we need to have an A-game defensively to stop their attacking threats," he said.

"But also we know we need to move the ball really, really fast because they showed against Canada that they can play very physically if they get close into duels and they're very, very good at that one-on-one duel game."

The 2023 Women's World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, will see the top two teams from each of the eight groups progress to the round of 16.