U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann says he's pleased with how some of his players have taken it upon themselves to find more playing time ahead of this summer's World Cup.
In recent weeks, star forward Clint Dempsey joined Fulham on a two-month loan while midfielder Brek Shea headed down a competition level to the English Championship to join Barnsley on loan to ensure he's prepared to play in Brazil.
"Five to six months out from the World Cup we try to be as close as possible to all the players no matter where they play," Klinsmann told USsoccer.com. "If they play in Europe, if they play in Mexico, if they play in MLS, we monitor them week in, week out.
"Right now, the Premier League and the Championship in England are still in full run. Those players are performing. We are happy, for example, with Brek Shea who made the jump over to a Championship team in order to get playing time. That's what he needs. He doesn't get that at Stoke City. We see how Geoff Cameron is doing at Stoke, he's doing fairly well."
A stubborn foot injury plagued Shea throughout much of his first half-season in the Premier League with Stoke, and he subsequently struggled to break through under new manager Mark Hughes. But after completing a loan move this week he immediately started and played 75 minutes in Barnsley's 1-1 draw with Birmingham City on Wednesday.
Dempsey could make his return to Fulham on Saturday against Norwich City in the FA Cup, the Telegraph reported. Dempsey previously played with the Cottagers from 2007 to 2012.
In August, Dempsey signed to play his club football with the Seattle Sounders, but with Major League Soccer off until March, he can use the loan to the Premier League to get more time on the pitch.
"Obviously, we are pleased with Clint Dempsey, our captain, making the jump for two months to Fulham to get games in now," Klinsmann told US Soccer. "He had a very difficult couple of months because of injury and the transition back into MLS. I think it's a great decision from Clint to start off the year in the right way going on loan for two months to Fulham, his old team. They need him to get them back up in the table of the league, and he will come already in good shape back into MLS. That is great!"
Dempsey struggled on his return to MLS, scoring once in 12 games while dealing with a hamsting injury. Klinsmann said he's confident Dempsey will be fit for the World Cup.
"When he came back to MLS, he didn't have a preseason, he had no foundation," Klinsmann said. "They just threw him straight in, which was understandable, and his base was not there yet for going 200 miles per hour. He understands that now, so now he builds the base the last couple weeks. Hopefully now he gets games with Fulham and then he comes in completely different shape back to MLS and continues that path towards the World Cup.
"It was very difficult for him, that transition. But it's over; it's way back. He plans it out now the right way and we are thrilled that he's with Fulham. By the middle of May when the season stops in Europe and we get into camp for the World Cup, I think he's going to be in tremendous shape."
Klinsmann also said he's confident that Jermaine Jones will find a way to play regularly before the summer.
Jones is seeking an early exit from Schalke of the Bundesliga and will not travel to the club's winter training camp in Doha, Qatar.
"We see that Jermaine Jones has a bit of a struggle with Schalke right now," Klinsmann said. "It's not his first one, so he will figure out a way to get out of that one. A move maybe somewhere else or maybe he finds his way back into the starting lineup with Schalke, which he often did."
Klinsmann's staff will monitor the American players in the U.S, in Mexico and in Europe before deciding who to invite to the World Cup training camp in May. On Friday, he announced a January training camp roster made up almost entirely of MLS players.
"Mexico is on its way to start again with our players down there. Then we have a big opportunity with the January camp to get the jump start for the MLS players. We are all over the place.
"We have Andi Herzog and Matthias Hamann in Europe being constantly on their way to games, to talk to players, and we do the same here. The next five months is constantly monitoring them, talking to them, and directly talking to their coaches to get the best opinion possible about what they're doing. Then the closer it gets to the camp in May, the more difficult the decisions will be to leave somebody out."