United States men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter has confirmed that Christian Pulisic will not start against Mexico on Friday, as he responded to Thomas Tuchel’s plea.
The 23-year-old winger has only played a total of 23 minutes of football since returning from an ankle injury he picked up with the national team in September.
Tuchel understandably has concerns about Pulisic’s travelling for international duty despite not being fully fit.
“I hope that they [The USMNT] don’t overuse him and are responsible enough,” the German said about Pulisic’s injury situation a few days ago(via The Athletic).
“Christian still feels a bit of pain. He absolutely wants to come back, but it’s a matter of pain management, not re-injury or being still injured.
“It’s just that it’s still painful. But he tried so hard and wanted desperately to come back and we needed him to come back.
“But yes, we are a bit worried.”
Berhalter insists he plans to ease Pulisic’s return after two-month Chelsea absence
From USMNT boss Berhalter’s point of view, it is obviously not an easy decision.
They are going to face arguably their strongest opponents in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, Mexico, on Friday (Saturday in UK time)and will need all the firepower they can get.
The USMNT now sit second in the table, three points behind leaders Mexico and just one point ahead of third-placed Canada. They will need to finish in the top three to automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
Berhalter still responded positively to Tuchel’s comments, though, and gave his assurance that the former Borussia Dortmund star will not full 90 minutes against Mexico.
“He’s been training for four days [with Chelsea],” he told the media before the game (via ESPN).
“Common sense is going to tell us you can’t start a guy in a game like this when he’s only been training for four days, and he’s been out for two months.”
“I understand Tuchel’s concern. Our idea wasn’t to play him 180 minutes in this trip anyway. He’s not going to start [on Friday].”