Jozy Altidore's disappointing first season with England's Sunderland less than a month remaining, and it appears as though the American's struggles for playing time aren't finished.
Altidore, who scored 31 goals in 41 games for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch league last year, was an unused substitute for last-place Sunderland in a 2-2 tie with Manchester City.
Even though he didn't play for the relegation-threatened Black Cats, Altidore's appearance on the bench was somewhat of a mark of progress.
The 24-year-old, who has just two goals this season, started for Sunderland's under-21 team last week â€” a sign of just how far the United States national team stalwart has fallen this season after last year's breakout campaign.
"All that we can tell him is obviously he has all our support, (and) to make the best out of that difficult situation," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in an interview on the U.S. Soccer Federation website.
Sunderland is 6-19-8 and is five points from safety with five games remaining. The bottom three teams are relegated to the second-tier League Championship, a fate that could impact whether Altidore returns to the club next season.
For now, Klinsmann is only focused on the next few weeks leading into the U.S. training camp prior to the World Cup. And that means he would like Altidore on the field as much as possible, even if the American has to put in extra practice time as a substitute for missed games.
"Yes, it concerns us because we want him to play, we want him to score goals," Klinsmann said. "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."