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Klinsmann cautious on Altidore return

SALVADOR, Brazil -- U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said on Monday that forward Jozy Altidore had been with the team "two, three days" but added that it's difficult to say how many minutes are in him.

"We don't know how much [he can play] ... but he's available," Klinsmann said during a news conference in Salvador. "It's now difficult to say how many minutes."

Altidore, who has been sidelined with a strained hamstring since the United States' 2-1 win over Ghana on June 16, joined the U.S. team on Monday for a workout in Salvador and is fit and ready to go, according to U.S. Soccer.

Altidore has spent the past week jogging separately, but on Monday he warmed up with the team for a portion of training. The U.S. plays Belgium on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET (ESPN/WatchESPN).

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Aron Johannsson replaced Altidore against Ghana, and Klinsmann switched from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1 against Portugal and Germany.

"Just having him with us tomorrow is huge," Klinsmann said.

Any decision to play Altidore carries with it considerable risk. If the U.S. striker was to suffer a recurrence of the injury, Klinsmann would have to use one of his three substitutes, which would limit his tactical options later in the match, especially if Altidore comes on as a substitute himself.

Yet there is also the possibility that this is just a ploy by Klinsmann to hide his true intentions. The word "available" could mean starting Altidore with the idea of playing him a predetermined number of minutes, using him as a substitute, or having him on the bench with no intention of playing him at all.

U.S. vs. Belgium: Tuesday, 4 ET (ESPN and WatchESPN)

- Chris Jones: U.S. belief grows
- Doug McIntyre: Klinsmann pulls out the tricks
- Jeff Carlisle: Altidore's role vs. Belgium
- Jeff Carlisle: Klinsmann justified so far
- Roger Bennett: How far can the U.S. go?
- Doug McIntyre: Beasley's U.S. rebirth
- Read: Tim Howard assesses Belgian attack

Omar Gonzalez, who replaced Geoff Cameron in central defense for the United States' 1-0 loss to Germany, said Altidore's absence has been felt.

"Jozy's a great striker, especially when he's up there with Clint [Dempsey]," Gonzalez said. "Both can create chances, and with Jozy going out early, it's been a lot of work for Clint. He's done a great job up there. Hopefully we can see Jozy come back pretty soon, and if that's the case, it's going to be a tough task for the defenders that have to mark them."

Gonzalez said he felt the team could shoulder through should Altidore not be ready to play on Tuesday.

"We've got the guys who can come in and get the job done, can come in and add another threat," he said.

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