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ESPN FC  By ESPN

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann backs Jozy Altidore's inclusion in Gold Cup

Jozy Altidore deserves his spot on the United States Gold Cup squad, even if he's not 100 percent fit, says coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Despite dealing with a hamstring injury, the striker started the Americans' first two games last week in the CONCACAF tournament, but he was substituted in the second half of both wins.

Altidore failed to find the net in either appearance, but Klinsmann stood by his decision to name the 25-year-old to the U.S. squad.

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"He's the type of player who can always make a difference, that has to work himself into a rhythm," Klinsmann said. "He obviously knows his body the best because you always know your own body the best.

"So that's what we have to hope. Giving him minutes, giving him the chance to come through and pick up a higher tempo and higher pace, until there's that wish that comes along and in the long run it will be a very positive one.

"He obviously is a little frustrated as well but you gotta go through those moments."

Clint Dempsey has scored all three of the U.S. goals in the tournament, with wins over Honduras and Haiti securing the top place in Group A, even without Altidore in peak form.

"Because we are still in the group stage we think we're in control of the situation and here and there we were a little bit lucky because Haiti didn't put the ball on target with those many shots that they had," Klinsmann said.

"Things so far worked out OK, but we obviously have high expectations in Jozy. High expectations."

The U.S. takes on Panama in the final game of the group stage on Monday night, so Klinsmann can afford to rest Altidore. The coach confirmed he will keep up a "rotational system" as his players take the pitch for the third time in seven days.

"We want to finish off the group in the right way, and that means three points. We want to also step-by-step improve a couple of things that we haven't done so well, we thought, in the first two games," Klinsmann said.

"From our end we know that Panama is under Panama is under pressure to get a result, at least a tie, but probably they might even need a win. So knowing that it's going to be another grind, it's going to be another fight, and we're ready for it."

The Americans might have nothing to play for in the group table, but Klinsmann said his side is still under pressure to win.

Asked if his team would be complacent with the group secured, Klinsmann said, "No I don't think so. They understand the difficulties of this competition.

"And the fact is that people expect them to do well. They expect them to win the games, and I think that's a very good thing, that the expectations are higher now, and the fans want to see good games, and they want to see them succeed.

"With those expectations you're on your toes, and that's what we want to see. And if you see some things that don't work out a perfect way, we talk about it."

Klinsmann also said Graham Zusi's availability to play is in doubt after he took a knock against Haiti and missed training on Sunday.

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