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U.S. 'confident' Jozy Altidore, Fabian Johnson will be fit to play in Guatemala

MIAMI -- United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann is "confident" that injured starters Jozy Altidore and Fabian Johnson will be available to play when the Americans resume qualifying for the 2018 World Cup against Guatemala on Friday.

Toronto FC forward Altidore has been nursing a sore hamstring for a month and, while Johnson hurt his groin last week playing for German Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach.

Both players were still included on the 26-man roster Klinsmann named on Sunday for Friday's match and another on March 29, also against Guatemala, in Columbus, Ohio (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN).

On Tuesday, Klinsmann told reporters that's he's optimistic that Altidore and will be able to contribute in some capacity.

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"They're not 100 percent yet, but hopefully by the time the game comes Friday, they're close," Klinsmann said before the Americans trained at Barry University.

After sitting out TFC's first two games of the new MLS season, Altidore made his 2016 as a second-half substitute in Sunday's 1-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City.

"Jozy's injury was not as bad as feared, so Toronto had a plan to have him on the bench, give him a couple minutes on the field," Klinsmann said. "That plan worked out pain-wise at least, and we build on that.

"We talked to them and said we'll take him from there. Now every training session for him means he's getting closer. How close he'll be on Friday, we'll see."

Fabian Johnson
Fabian Johnson should be able to play for the U.S. in Guatemala on Friday.

Asked if he was confident that Johnson would be OK, the coach said he was.

"Yes, we're confident," Klinsmann said. "If there would be no chance that he plays, he wouldn't be here. So we work with him every day, we have top physios here, and we're confident that he will play a role."

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic could also join the national team in Columbus next week if he recovers from an illness.

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