The ex-Tottenham Hotspur forward has not featured for the club since last month's 3-1 win over the Portland Timbers but is now back in training.
Clint Dempsey was back in training with the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday for the first time since being sidelined last month with an irregular heartbeat, but when he will be available for selection again remains to be seen.
Speaking to the club’s official website, general manager Garth Lagerwey explained that while the 33-year-old forward had been given the OK to resume light training after undergoing examinations and an unspecified procedure over the past few weeks, he has not yet been medically cleared to play.
Lagerwey went on to add that he was “cautiously optimistic” that the US international would be back in action before the end of the 2016 season, but he also stressed that there is currently no timetable for his eventual return.
“[Dempsey] has had a procedure to address some of the issues associated with [the irregular heartbeat],” Lagerwey told soundersfc.com. “We are not at liberty to disclose anything further from a medical perspective.
“I will add that we are cautiously optimistic that he could return to play this season. So to be clear, he’s been cleared to return to training, to exercise, but he has not been medically cleared to play yet. We don’t have a timetable for that and we won’t because we’re going to prioritize his health. When Clint feels better and the doctors feel that it’s safe, then we will consider his return to playing.”
Dempsey initially sat out Seattle’s 1-1 draw at the Houston Dynamo on 24 August before it was subsequently announced two days later that he would be sidelined indefinitely while undergoing medical evaluations in order to get the root of his symptoms.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star, who has recorded eight goals and two assists in 17 regular season appearances this season, has since missed a further two league games, while he was also forced to sit out the USA’s recent World Cup qualifiers against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.
Seattle, meanwhile, have failed to win in his absence after previously recording three straight victories, leaving them sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference with just seven matches remaining.
However, while they now find themselves six points off the playoffs, Lagerwey stressed that there is absolutely no chance of the club rushing their star man back for the run-in before he is completely ready to return.
“When you have a medical condition like this, you don’t want to put false pressure on a return,” Lagerwey added to soundersfc.com. “You can’t just say, ‘Clint’s important to us.’ You have to mean it. And if you mean it, then that means his health comes first and that means there’s no timetable by definition. You have to wait and see if or when he’s healthy and ready to come back.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding his status, Dempsey is said to be in good spirits and his mere return to training has seemingly given the team a much needed lift ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps at CenturyLink Field.
“I’m just in a really good mood,” interim head coach Brian Schmetzer told soundersfc.com. “I think it’s really positive news. I’m just really happy, the players are really happy and you could see that translate into training today.
“It lifts the mood. ... He’s a big personality, he’s ultra positive and he’s happy to be back here. Everything in that sense is good.”
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