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U.S. Goalkeeper Howard Is Cleared to Play Against Slovenia

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard was cleared to play in a June 18 World Cup match against Slovenia.

Howard doesn’t need more tests on ribs he injured two days ago in a 1-1 draw with England, U.S. Soccer said on its Web site. He was hurt when England striker Emile Heskey slid into him while going for a loose ball in the Group C match in Rustenburg, South Africa. Howard was treated and stayed in the game.

U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo said it was important to have Howard back for the game in Johannesburg against Slovenia, which beat 10-man Algeria yesterday in the other Group C match. Slovenia leads the group with 3 points, with the U.S. and England tied on 1 point and goal difference. Algeria has no points.

“Having an excellent keeper in a tournament like this is essential,” Cherundolo said. “Any time you’re in a big game like that and you get an injury, there is no chance anybody’s taking you off that field. It speaks for Tim’s character.”

Howard was beaten by England captain Steven Gerrard in the fourth minute, and was then named man of the match after holding off the rest of the attacks. At the other end, a mistake by goalkeeper Robert Green allowed a Clint Dempsey shot to trickle into the net to even the match.

After taking on Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard last weekend with lots of attention from U.K. and U.S. media, the matches against Slovenia and Algeria will be lower profile, U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. He said he’ll look at the opposition’s style of play, the fitness of the American players and any possible problems with yellow cards before deciding on changes to his team.

The U.S. may have to change tactics against Slovenia, he said.

“They’re hard-working, they’re organized, they have the ability to sit back a little bit more and still get you on the counter,” Bradley said of the Slovenian squad. “The Slovenia game may be a bit more of a chess match.”

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