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Kennedy ready to counter Kerr at Wembley

Alanna Kennedy will put her fear of flying to one side on Monday and travel halfway around the world, looking forward to family, sunny beaches and better coffee.

But first the Australian soccer international has to spoil Sunday afternoon for her Matildas captain.

That’s when Kennedy plays for Manchester City in the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, facing Sam Kerr, whose two goals helped Chelsea win the trophy last year.

Kerr is coming off another superb season during which her goals won Chelsea the Women’s Super League title and herself another Golden Boot.

Kennedy is also in fine form, recovering from a difficult start in Manchester to marshall a City defence that has conceded five goals in their last 14 matches, all won.

Not even a broken nose suffered playing for Australia against New Zealand in Canberra last month has stopped the 26-year-old.

Kennedy realised her nose was broken when she saw herself on the big screen at GIO Stadium.

“I had a feeling,” she told AAP. “I heard and felt a big crack and tried to speak to a few people around me.

“They probably didn’t want to scare me. When I saw myself on the screen I thought I’d have a look. It wasn’t ideal, but it’s all fixed now.”

The Sydneysider wore a mask for a few matches but the nose has now been straightened and she’s free to try and combat Kerr without it.

“Sam is an amazing player who I’ve had the pleasure of playing with, so I obviously know a lot about her and I think that’s helpful.

“Her movement is very smart. She finds good areas off the shoulders of the defenders, on their blind side.

“She’s a great finisher and the timing of her headers and the power and redirection she puts into them is a huge strength of hers.

“I’ve won a couple of finals against Sam in the W-League, and I’ve also won some with her. I love playing against her. I think she brings out the best in me. I’m looking forward to it.”

Further ahead Kennedy is also looking forward to the 2023 World Cup.

“I think it’ll be huge,” she said. “The Matildas have grown so much over the last five or six years across Australia and the support has been amazing, but to bring the best tournament in the world for women’s football to Australia and New Zealand will just be a huge eye-opener for young girls and boys playing football.

“We can’t wait for it. It’s obviously very rare that you get the opportunity to play in your home country at a World Cup. I feel really lucky.”

Kennedy has never been to Wembley, but having played in an Olympic semi-final, a World Cup quarter-final and Asian Cup final the 27-year-old is “excited” rather than nervous.

The Campbelltown-born Kennedy has played for five clubs in Australia, including City’s Melbourne offshoot, two in the USA and Tottenham Hotspur and City in England.

Is she finally setting down roots?

“I feel City is a good fit for me,” she said. “It’s the kind of football I’ve always wanted to play.

“I feel more like myself. You like to get comfortable and settle, and feel you can really grow somewhere. I feel like I’m on my way to doing that here and we’ll see what the future holds for me at this club.”

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