JOZY ALTIDORE will return to pre-season training a fortnight later than his team-mates after being given extra leave following his World Cup exertions.
Sunderland’s squad is due to report back to work at the Academy of Light tomorrow for conditioning tests before training gets under way in earnest 48 hours later.
But Altidore will be the one notable omission among the playing staff after the USA’s World Cup bid came to a halt against Belgium on Tuesday night.
Altidore, the only Sunderland player involved at the World Cup, didn’t feature for the US after their opening game with Ghana due to a hamstring injury, yet the 23-year-old’s close season has still been taken up by his international commitments.
Sunderland have granted the £7million frontman extra time off and he is due to be back in training before the Black Cats’ opening pre-season friendly against Darlington 1883 on Saturday, July 19.
That will also give Altidore the opportunity to fully shake off the hamstring strain which ruined his hopes of making an impact in Brazil.
Altidore was back on the bench for the last 16 extra-time defeat to Belgium and warmed up alongside his fellow substitutes.
But US boss Jurgen Klinsmann admits there was never a chance that Altidore would be introduced into the fray, as he was still not fully fit after suffering a grade two tear to his hamstring.
Klinsmann said: “We knew that bringing Jozy on the bench did not mean having Jozy on the field. He still needs a couple more days.”
The ex-Germany striker admits the loss of the former AZ Alkmaar striker was a big blow to the US’s hopes of progressing in the tournament.
Former Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey was forced to lead the line in Altidore’s absence and the US struggled to create chances in their final two World Cup outings against Germany and Belgium.
“Jozy’s a big part of our spine, as we call it,” Klinsmann added.
“He’s a player that keeps two centre-backs on their toes, he can hold the ball and gives Clint more space and more freedom to roam around him to get the whole game higher up the field.”