Jozy Altidore will start Saturday in the United States' World Cup opener against England, 10 days after spraining his right ankle in training.
The big forward injured the ankle during training on June 2 to miss last Saturday's friendly win over Australia, and only resumed full training Tuesday. But coach Bob Bradley says the U.S. staff always felt the injury was "minor," and Altidore has made good progress.
Altidore scored his ninth goal in 25 international appearances against Turkey in the U.S. sendoff game last month. He scored two goals for Hull last season in the Premier League while on loan from Spain's Villarreal.
Bradley made the initial announcement about Altidore during a radio interview — quite a contrast to England coach Fabio Capello, who said he won't disclose any of his starting lineup until two hours before kickoff.
"I got asked the question and I just felt at that point Jozy is starting," Bradley said after the U.S. team's training session at Royal Bafokeng Stadium. "I thought we could give one name out.
"There will be no more," he said, smiling as reporters laughed.
'Ready to prove himself'
Altidore, the United States' most experienced forward, has been running at full speed in training. He jogged a few laps around the field with the rest of the team during the 15 minutes of Friday night's session open to reporters, showing no signs of gingerness.
Altidore's Premier League season ended on a sour note. Not only was Hull relegated, but Altidore missed the last two games of the season after receiving a red card April 24 for head-butting Sunderland's Alan Hutton, who had thrown the ball at him.
"The one thing I would always say about Jozy, from our experiences with him, when he's come into camps he's shown that, when things don't come easily, it's helped him," Bradley said. "He comes in with a level of determination and ready to prove himself. He knows we believe in him. That's why he continues to be important for us."
It's no secret Wayne Rooney is the most important player for England, and some have suggested the Americans should try and rile up the mercurial forward to throw him off his game. Rooney picked up a yellow card in a meaningless warmup Monday after swearing at a referee, prompting the officiating crew for Saturday's match to brush up on English-language curse words.
He also was sent off during the last World Cup after stomping on the groin of an opposing player.
But that isn't the way the Americans play, Bradley said.
"We respect him as a player," Bradley said. "He's experienced, a competitor. We don't have anything else other than to try and compete at the same level he plays at. … Our ability to keep track of him and make life hard for him is a key part of us making sure we can win."