US national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann confirmed via Twitter on Monday that star attacker Clint Dempsey is expected to play vs. Costa Rica and Mexico in World Cup qualifiers later this month, giving US fans a chance to finally breathe that big sigh of relief. It was the first bit of positive news after a series of cruel cuts have seen Dempsey, fullbacks Fabian Johnson and Steve Cherundolo, and starting 'keeper Tim Howard all categorized as anything from "questionable" to "out of action" for the crucial games.
Dempsey, who scored the only US goal vs. Honduars in the Yanks' 2-1 loss to open the Hexagonal, had been on the shelf since late February with a calf injury. According to Klinsmann, Dempsey hopes to return to action on Thursday when Tottenham face Inter Milan in the Europe League Round of 16:
Spoke with Clint. Back in training & hopes to play v Inter. All good for WCQs RT: @mrhoffman02 When will we know if Dempsey is able to play— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) March 11, 2013
Johnson, as reported on MLSsoccer.com, also returned to training on Monday. Klinsmann confirmed that he expects to have the left back available for both games:
Yes. He should be good to join us in Denver. RT @chieffif Heard that Fabian Johnson is returning to training. Option for the next 2 games?— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) March 11, 2013
The news wasn't nearly so positive on Cherundolo, who's been out for months with a lingering knee injury. The veteran right back has returned to training for Hannover 96, but Klinsmann was non-committal about when he would return to the US fold: