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Mar 5, 2014

Chicharito says he'll give 'heart and soul'

Mexican players are under pressure as the friendly against Nigeria is the last chance before the World Cup to impress head coach Miguel Herrera.

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez said he’s thankful to link up with Mexico for Wednesday's friendly against Nigeria in Atlanta and take a break from Manchester United's current struggles. •Mitten: A frustrated Hernandez fades
Marshall: Five keys vs. Nigeria
Hernandez: Roster competition fierce

Hernandez has been an unused substitute in four of United's last six games.
Javier Hernandez said he's grateful to El Tri coach Miguel Herrera for not measuring the striker's worth simply by statistics.

In fact, he thanked El Tri coach Miguel Herrera giving him his trust and understanding his lack of playing time under David Moyes.

Last week, Herrera told ESPN that he felt that Hernandez was just "frustrated" and knew that once he joined with the Mexico team "his good performance with Mexico would help create opportunities with United."

"He is the first coach to speak of it, of what I have done. More than anything whether I have the goals or the statistics or not, the truth is I try to leave my heart and soul in the match, I commit to deliver everything I have," Hernandez told ESPN after Tuesday night’s scrimmage. "I am truly grateful to him because he didn’t have to support me. He is the coach and we all have to give our souls to earn a spot on the team, but we can’t live in the past either."

Hernandez did not play in El Tri’s final CONCACAF qualifier playoff, for which newly named coach Herrera used only Mexican League players, most of them from his former club America. Herrera said he blamed the multiple coaching changes and lack of leadership for Mexico’s qualifying struggles and not his "European" players.

"They know it wasn’t their fault but rather that they didn’t have anyone to guide them to play the (CONCACAF qualifying) matches better," Herrera said.

On Wednesday, Herrera said he would start Hernandez along with Guillermo Ochoa, Diego Reyes, Rafa Marquez, Hector Moreno; Paul Aguilar, Andres Guardado; Hector Herrera, Juan Carlos Medina, Luis Montes and Oribe Peralta.

"Chicharito is a player with a great attitude," Herrera said. "Today he scored four goals in practice. True, they don’t mean anything in an intrasquad match, but they show that he has the nose for it.

"He also shows his character by his discipline. When his coach (Moyes) has him warm up for 30 minutes and then doesn’t play him, he doesn’t rebel, he obeys," Herrera said.

Herrera said the friendly against Nigeria is not the final test prior to the World Cup for the Mexican players seeing action in Europe. He said his goal is to watch them and see how they might interact with the rest of El Tri.

"They are not here to win a spot. They are here to convince me that they can play the way El Tri needs them to," Herrera said.

Mexico will play the United States April 2 in Glendale, Ariz., followed by friendlies against three more World Cup entrants: Ecuador on May 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas; and June 3 at Chicago's Soldier Field against Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Portugal on June 6 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

May 13 is FIFA's deadline for 30-man provisional rosters with June 2 the date for final World Cup rosters.

Mexico will play in the World Cup in Group A, along with host Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia.

"We want to be among the top four. Our group is very tough but we want to make history in Brazil," Herrera said. "We want to play a very good World Cup and we know Brazil is the team to beat."

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