Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes believes Catarina Macario is unlikely to play for the club until next year.
USWNT international Macario joined Chelsea from Lyon over the summer but has yet to make her debut for her new side. The 24-year-old sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a Lyon game in June 2022 and has not played since.
When Macario, who can play as a forward or attacking midfielder, signed a three-year deal with Chelsea in June, the club said she was making “good progress” in her rehabilitation from that ACL rupture.
Hayes — who will take over as the USWNT head coach at the end of the 2023-24 season — left Macario out of Chelsea’s Champions League squad for the first half of the campaign earlier this week.
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“I don’t think she’ll play this half of the season,” Hayes said on Macario. “I hope and if she does, it’ll be a bonus. But I don’t think the time she’s been out for we would take that risk.
“When you’ve been out a long time — this isn’t about me withholding, this is about the recognition that with all the will in the world, you can put a player on the grass with a knee history, and sometimes, if the knee blows up, you then have to come back off of it again.
“She had some other issues she had to resolve. It takes a bit of time to realise when you can go harder with them. Because she’s new to us I’m not as confident knowing those timelines as I would do Guro (Reiten) or Melanie (Leupolz).
“If she (Macario) makes it back before Christmas, it’d be brilliant, but probably my gut tells me it won’t happen this side of Christmas.”
Hayes was unveiled as the USWNT’s head coach earlier this week, signing a deal that makes her the highest-paid coach in women’s football and ending a 12-year stay as Chelsea boss.
Macario, who won two NCAA championships with Stanford University at college level, has played 17 times for the USWNT since making her senior debut in 2021. She also won the 2021-22 Division 1 Feminine and Champions League titles with Lyon.
Chelsea host Liverpool on Saturday at Stamford Bridge looking to extend their unbeaten start to the Women’s Super League season. Hayes’ side have won five times and drawn once in their opening six fixtures.
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(Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)