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Nov 1, 2012

Klinsmann: U.S. wants Landon Donovan

United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann says he intends to speak with Landon Donovan after the star American midfielder said he isn't sure he wants to play at the next World Cup.

In an interview last week with ESPN FC, Donovan said he was "50-50" about playing in the 2014 World Cup. Then in another interview this week on ESPN, Donovan questioned whether the U.S. national team even wants him around.

Donovan said his injury layoffs from the U.S. squad have given him doubts about his role on the team.

"When you're not part of the team all the time, you can start to question your value and your worth there," Donovan said. "I'm human. I think about those things, and I wonder that from time to time -- am I capable and/or do they still want me around?"

Speaking during a conference call Thursday, Klinsmann said Donovan is wanted by the national team, which starts the 10-game final round of World Cup qualifying in February.

"I find it really courageous of him to talk openly about what's going through his mind," Klinsmann said, adding: "He's always in our plans, absolutely."

Klinsmann seems to be giving Donovan plenty of time to make up his mind.

"It's really down to him, himself, what he wants to further achieve in his career, what he wants to do," the coach said. "Whatever he decides to do will be very respected by us."

Donovan's availability for the next U.S. game, a Nov. 14 exhibition at Russia, depends on how far the defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy progress in the Major League Soccer playoffs. Donovan scored the deciding goal on a penalty in the Galaxy's 2-1 win in their playoff opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday night.

His absence on the national team has created a void in the American attack.

"When one player is not there, there is a chance for another player to step in and make a case for a spot," Klinsmann said. "We'll all be curious to see how it continues."

Donovan has been sidelined this year by bronchitis, a hamstring injury and a knee injury. The U.S. is 3-2-3 with Donovan under Klinsmann and 8-4-0 without him.

"It's probably affected my relationship with everybody on that team," Donovan said of the absences. "When you're a guy who's never been hurt for the most part and then all of a sudden you have all these injuries, I think people start to question it -- maybe he's faking it, or maybe he's not really hurt or maybe he doesn't want to come in.

"That's really frustrating and candidly it's pretty hurtful because I've spent more time on a soccer field than anybody in the history of this program. I've played in games I shouldn't be playing in for health reasons or otherwise. I feel like I've given a lot to this program, and when you get the sense that people think you're not genuine, then that can hurt you."

Klinsmann thought Donovan had the wrong impression, and intends to invite him to lunch or dinner.

"I don't know if he has a feeling that maybe some players didn't buy in or whatever. I didn't see that," Klinsmann said. "If it's Landon's thought, then he can obviously talk about it. It's no problem."

Klinsmann said he hasn't spoken with striker Jozy Altidore since dropping the forward from his roster for World Cup qualifiers last month and said he hasn't decided whether to include him for the Russia game.

Klinsmann also hasn't decided whether to have a January training camp. He may reduce the size or push it into late January, ahead of the next qualifier.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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