Ellie Carpenter gives Matildas World Cup boost with return from injury

Ellie Carpenter says she is “grateful” to be back in action after giving the Matildas a timely boost ahead of the Women’s World Cup with a return to competitive football eight months after rupturing her ACL.

Australia’s first-choice right-back came off the bench for Olympique Lyonnais with her club side 5-0 up against Rodez in a French cup match over the weekend and came through the half-hour appearance unscathed.

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Lyon ran out 8-0 winners and Carpenter, who sustained the injury in last season’s Women’s Champions League final against Barcelona, said she was glad to be back in action with just over five months to go before the Matildas kick off their World Cup campaign.

“Very proud and grateful to be back,” she tweeted. “I have learned a lot during these months about myself. The ones who have been there since day one. Thank you, my support system has been second to none. Would not be here without you guys. I’m just getting started.”

Carpenter’s return to fitness came too late to be included in Australia’s squad for the upcoming Cup of Nations announced last week, but will nevertheless be a fillip for coach Tony Gustavsson.

The 22-year-old is one of the first names on the Matildas team sheet and has been a mainstay in the side since making her debut as a 15-year-old in 2016.

She has developed into one of the best defenders in the world but is facing a race to be fit in time for the World Cup opener against Ireland at Sydney’s Accor Stadium on 20 July.

Carpenter underwent surgery on her knee in May after suffering the injury 13 minutes into Lyon’s 3-1 victory in Turin. She left the pitch in tears on a stretcher, but returned later in the night to celebrate with her teammates on crutches and with her leg in a brace.