U.S. coach Arena being 'very cautious' with Clint Dempsey ahead of World Cup qualifiers

Troy Taormina
The Sounders star returned last weekend after being sidelined with an irregular heartbeat, but Bruce Arena can't guarantee he'll receive a call up.

U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena is keeping a close eye on Clint Dempsey ahead of a pair of World Cup qualifiers later this month.

After being sidelined with an irregular heartbeat since last August, Dempsey went a full 90 minutes and scored for the Seattle Sounders in a loss to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.

WATCH: Dempsey scores on return

But Arena is still taking a "very cautious" approach with the veteran forward, not promising a spot on his roster to face Honduras on March 24, and Panama four days later.

"I think it's great that [Dempsey] is back and playing again," Arena told reporters. "I think we need to be smart and evaluate where he's at over the next two weekends. Again, I think in his case, we need to be very cautious."

Arena is also unsure about the availability of Tim Howard and Geoff Cameron.

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Geoff Cameron Joe Allen Stoke City EPL 030417

Howard suffered a groin injury during the United States' World Cup qualifying loss to Mexico in November, and underwent surgery shortly after. The Colorado Rapids goalkeeper has been practicing with the MLS side, but reportedly had back pain last week. 

"I'm aware of the fact that [Howard] trained pretty hard yesterday," Arena said. "So I think when you come back from those kind of injuries, you always have some kind of minor little setback. You get a strain or a little bit of fatigue ... I think that's normal."

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Stoke City's Cameron recently returned from MCL injury and started a Premier League match for the first time since October this past weekend. He played 90 minutes in a midfield role for Stoke City, which defeated Middlesbrough 2-0 at home.

"[Cameron] is a little sore, naturally," Arena said. "It was his first game in a long time, so we'll just follow him through the week."

The coach added that he's not expecting Dempsey, Howard and Cameron to all be available: "We'd like to have them all. But the reality of the situation is that's not likely."