US head to Caribbean short-handed as two more ruled out

Fabian Johnson general head shot vs Italy

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Four points would do it. Three might be enough. Six, of course, would be best.

Regardless, at this point if it's gonna get done, it's gonna get done short-handed.

Jurgen Klinsmann's US national team will be without two potential starters and their top backups for Friday's World Cup qualifier in Antigua & Barbuda, according to a press release put out on Wednesday afternoon. Hours after attackers Landon Donovan and Brek Shea left camp to deal with knee and abdominal injuries, respectively, left backs Edgar Castillo and Fabian Johnson were also ruled out.

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Castillo, like Donovan and Shea, returned to his club team. The backup left back was revealed to be carrying an unspecified foot injury after an MRI on Wednesday. Johnson, the starter at left back, has the flu will miss the trip to Antigua & Barbuda game, but is aiming to join the team in time for the Oct. 16 game vs. Guatemala in Kansas City. He is the only one of the four expected to be available for that encounter.

The spate of bad news on the injury front means Klinsmann's camp is reduced from 24 to 21 (20 with Johnson out), and that he'll have to shuffle the lineup for what is essentially, if not mathematically, a must-win game against the Benna Boys.

No replacements were called in, which leaves captain Carlos Bocanegra as the likely starter at left back. Who Klinsmann prefers at left midfield is still up in the air, however, as nobody in camp currently plays that spot.

READ: Shea off to Miami to see specialist

The one bit of good news for the US was that Michael Bradley, who missed most of September with a muscle injury before returning to the pitch for Roma last weekend, trained and is expected to be fully fit.

The US, Guatemala and Jamaica are all tied on seven points atop Group A. The top two teams in the group advance to the Hexagonal, the final CONCACAF World Cup qualifying round.