USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann has admitted his concerns over Jozy Altidore's lack of form and dwindling involvement in the Sunderland side with this summer's World Cup looming.
The striker has flopped since being a big-money arrival from AZ Alkmaar last year, scoring just two goals despite plenty of persistence from Gus Poyet. He was recently relegated to the under-21 side whilst the full team played a crucial game at Tottenham, but did return as an unused substitute at Manchester City.
It's a situation that Klinsmann finds worrying. He told the U.S Soccer federation website:
All that we can tell him is obviously he has all our support, (and) to make the best out of that difficult situation.
It concerns us because we want him to play, we want him to score goals. We want him to be there 90 minutes every weekend. If it's not the case, then make the best out of it. Work harder in training, do extra sessions.
Believe me, Jurgen, we want him to score goals too! Speaking personally, I have always rooted for Altidore and I still do.
But I think the time has long passed when even his biggest fans have to accept that he has had ample opportunities to cement his role in the Sunderland side and absolutely failed to do so. This isn't a case of a player not being given a fair opportunity.
I think that just about my ideal end to this season would be Altidore coming off the bench to score a last-minute winner on the final day to keep Sunderland up. You really can't envisage him getting many more starting chances between now and the end of the season, though, especially with Connor Wickham's sudden return to favour and goals. It's really not looking great for Jozy, is it.