Arena: March USMNT return not 'realistic' for Dempsey

Arena: March USMNT return not 'realistic' for Dempsey

U.S. Men's National Team

Arena: March USMNT return not 'realistic' for Dempsey

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports

Clint Dempsey recently returned to Seattle Sounders training, but Bruce Arena says he doesn’t expect the forward to be a part of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s plans any time soon.

Speaking to ESPN, Arena says Dempsey likely won’t be a part of the USMNT squad for March’s World Cup qualifiers. Dempsey has been sidelined since August due to an irregular heartbeat, but the 33-year-old forward was recently cleared to return to training with the Seattle Sounders.

“I don’t think that would be realistic,” Arena told ESPN. “The most important thing is his health right now and, as you know, you take six or eight months away from the game, it takes awhile to get back. I’m just hopeful that when March rolls around, he can be part of Seattle’s plans in Major League Soccer. As he continues in the season, hopefully he can come back and be part of the national team.”

Dempsey returned to the field on Tuesday, participating in the Sounders first training session of the preseason. The club is planning on taking things slow with the forward, taking the cautious approach to his return to the field.

“We’ve been pleased with his progress,” Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey said on Tuesday. “His attitude has been awesome, he’s worked really hard. He’s now progressed to a point where he’s able to rejoin the team on a regular basis. We still have some steps to get through. We’re excited about what the future may hold.

“We’re going to see how this goes,” Lagerwey added. “I can’t be complimentary enough about how hard Clint has worked. It is not easy to take that kind of time off given his experience and bounce back right away. He’s been really positive and a really good influence in our locker room as well.”

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