US will 'wait and see' over Pulisic fitness: Berhalter

·3-min read
US midfielder Christian Pulisic of Chelsea is recovering from Covid-19 but was named to the American squad for upcoming World Cup qualifying matches on Thursday with a "wait and see" attitude (AFP/Paul ELLIS)

United States coach Gregg Berhalter named Christian Pulisic in his squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers on Thursday but admitted officials would need to take a "wait and see" approach as the Chelsea star recovers from Covid-19.

Pulisic was one of several Europe-based players recalled by Berhalter for the start of CONCACAF's final round of qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, which get underway next week.

Pulisic missed Chelsea's victory over Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday due to Covid-19, but Berhalter said he expects the 22-year-old forward to report for duty when the US squad convenes in Nashville on Sunday.

But Berhalter said a decision on Pulisic's availability for games against El Salvador on September 2, Canada (September 5) and Honduras (September 8) would only be taken after a fitness assessment.

"Regarding Christian it's going to be day to day just seeing where he's at," Berhalter told reporters.

"He's still under quarantine conditions in England and we're going to have to get him stateside once he clears the quarantine and assess him.

"It's really too early to tell if he'll be available for September 2, for the fifth or for the eighth. We just don't know right now. It's going to be a wait and see kind of thing."

Berhalter said Pulisic was due to link up with the US squad on Sunday.

"That's the plan. There's a lot of things that need to happen before that for him to actually get on the plane and come," Berhalter said.

"Let's be clear. This is a Covid situation and there's a lot of tests that he needs to go through before he arrives. Even then, everyone handles it differently, everyone responds to it differently, everyone recovers from it differently. That's the process we're looking at."

As well as Pulisic, Berhalter's squad also includes Manchester City goalkeeper Zach Steffen. Four other players from English football's second tier are also included.

The squad also includes Juventus' Weston McKennie and Barcelona's Sergino Dest.

Authorities in England, Italy and Spain are locked in dispute with world governing body FIFA over the next international window, but Pulisic and Sargent are eligible to be called up because the United States is not on the British government's "red list".

The United States are bidding to qualify for the 2022 World Cup after their shock failure to reach the 2018 finals in Russia.

Berhalter said he was pleased with the development of his squad, which blends a number of players regularly playing in Europe with Major League Soccer-based players.

"We have spent the last two years building the foundation and culture of the team for this moment," Berhalter said.

"World Cup qualifying is a grueling challenge that demands a complete group effort in order to be successful. We are confident in our ability to respond to the challenges that are presented along the way."

US squad:

Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders: George Bello (Atlanta United), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER), Sergino Dest (Barcelona/ESP), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)

Forwards: Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT), Konrad de la Fuente (Marseille/FRA), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA)

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