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Keller asks to play in U.S. friendlies

© Reuters 2002

LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur's Kasey Keller has appealed to manager Glenn Hoddle not to block him playing two games for the United States so he can cement his place as his country's first choice goalkeeper at the World Cup.

Keller wants to travel to the U.S. and play in friendlies against Honduras on March 2 and Ecuador eight days later. But Tottenham want the 32-year-old back immediately after the Honduras game as cover for Neil Sullivan when they take on Manchester United in the premier league on March 6, followed by Chelsea in their FA Cup quarter-final clash on March 10.

"I was given permission from Glenn to go out for the Concacaf and for the recent friendly in Italy but now I've heard from the American Federation that I have to come back after the first game against Honduras," he told the London Evening Standard on Tuesday.

"That means I will only be out with the U.S. side for a week. Every game that I play for the national team is a positive move towards winning the number one spot in the World Cup this summer.

"If I could play these two games (for the U.S.) I think I would be pretty much there. But now the club are cutting my time short so I can come back and sit on the bench against Manchester United and Chelsea.

"Spurs have an agreement with U.S. side that if they need me urgently, I am to return on the next plane.

"I need to justify to the national team that I am playing games - so I am saying please let me go for the two matches."

Following their English League Cup final defeat by Blackburn on Sunday, Tottenham's most likely path into Europe next season is the FA Cup, and Hoddle is unwilling to be without Keller for what is now an even more crucial match against Chelsea. The United States have been drawn in group D to face South Korea, Poland and Portugal in the World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan in May and June.

Reports provided by

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