Brek Shea is aiming to put two months of injury angst behind him and prove he is ready to challenge hard for a place in the United States' World Cup squad.
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The Stoke City winger damaged knee ligaments when finding himself on the receiving end of a poor challenge in the game against Philadelphia Union during his club’s summer tour in the States.
It continued his unfortunate start to life in England after injuries restricted him to only one start and two appearances as a substitute after joining Stoke for £2.5m from FC Dallas last January.
But he is now close to full fitness and hoping to be included in Mark Hughes’ first-team plans over the next week.
“I feel good, now it’s up to the manager,” said the 23-year-old told the Stoke Sentinel. “It’s more likely I have a chance next midweek at Tranmere (in the Capital One Cup) than at Arsenal on Sunday. We’ve been playing well and why change a winning team?
“We’ve picked up seven points from four games in the League and we’ve looked good doing it.
“It’s going to be a good fight. There is a lot of competition for the front three places here and being injured didn’t help my cause. I’ve got to put the injury behind me, get fit and fight for a spot. I’m pretty close to full fitness.”
Before his setback, Brek had become a hero for the U.S. by scoring the goal against Panama which won the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
With him on the sidelines, his country has gone on to qualify for next summer’s World Cup finals and Shea appreciates that he has a battle on his hands at international level as well as domestically.
United States team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has sent out a reminder that he expects Shea to be featuring at the Britannia Stadium regularly if he is to win a ticket to Brazil.
“I really want to go to the World Cup, so first and foremost I need to be playing well for Stoke,” added Shea.
The player has offset his frustration in recent weeks by converting his garage to a studio and taken up painting.