United States forward Jozy Altidore has been medically cleared to return to the pitch for the national team’s World Cup knockout round match against Belgium.
U.S. Soccer took to its official Twitter account to announce that Altidore is “ready and available” for Tuesday’s match. The 24-year-old striker missed the national team’s last two World Cup matches with a strained hamstring.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 30, 2014
Altidore suffered the injury during the opening match against Ghana. At the 20-minute mark, he pulled up short and grabbed his leg while chasing down a long ball. A tearful Altidore left the field on a stretcher.
The hamstring injury forced U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann to significantly alter his lineup. Team captain Clint Dempsey took over as the sole forward in Team USA’s formation, and both he and midfielder Michael Bradley assumed vastly different roles to counteract Altidore’s absence.
It’s unclear how much of a role Altidore will be able to play in Klinsmann’s game plan on Tuesday. While he has been cleared, he isn’t expected to start and will likely be used as a late-game substitution. Altidore’s level of fitness is “still a question,” Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports reports.
Klinsmann is expected to address Altidore’s playing status at a Monday-afternoon press conference.