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U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter 'comfortable' with Christian Pulisic recovery

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Christian Pulisic sheds light on his move to Germany, being signed by Chelsea and his path to soccer stardom. (2:09)

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter said he's "comfortable" with where Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic is at, despite the fact that the player is dealing with yet another muscle injury.

Pulisic has missed the Blues' last five matches, including Saturday's FA Cup win over Hull City, due to a thigh injury and is expected to return in mid-February following Chelsea's brief break from the Premier League.

The U.S. international sustained several muscle injuries last season while with Borussia Dortmund, but Berhalter said while he's concerned about injuries to any of his players, he's not concerned about the Pulisic's availability when World Cup qualifying starts up later this year.

"One thing about Christian is he's adapting to the Premier League," Berhalter said on a conference call with reporters. "He played a lot of games in a short period of time over Christmas. The injury didn't appear to be that significant. He's working through that rehab. He should be back training soon in full training.

"This is part of it, a young player playing at an extremely competitive level, and it takes a physical toll on your body and him coming to terms of that is something that's normal for the process of adapting.

"So we're we are comfortable with where he's at. We're working with our medical staff to make sure that you know, you can be strong and fit and compete in these [qualifying] games."

One player who is back on the field after a lengthy injury layoff is Tyler Adams. The RB Leipzig midfielder has been deployed on the right flank of late, and has played right-back for the U.S. in the past. But Berhalter said he sees Adams playing in the center of midfield for the U.S. going forward.

"We played [Adams] at right back before and he's a good fit there because of his speed, his dynamic [ability], his ability to process the ball and move forward with ball and attack with speed," Berhalter said. "We see him primarily as a central midfielder. We always have seen him as a central midfielder.

"But we know that when we need to be flexible, he can play that position as well. We think right now that the right back position is filled with depth, and he'll be most suited in our system in central midfield."

Neither Pulisic nor Adams will be available for this Saturday's friendly against Costa Rica (live at 3:55 ET on ESPN News), given that it falls outside the international window. The current U.S. roster, which has taken part in a training camp for most of January, has 13 Olympic eligible players. With Olympic qualifying set to take place in late March, Berhalter said he plans to give some young players a look this weekend.

"I would expect there to be young players in the lineup, and that's perfectly OK," he said. "They've worked hard all month so far, and it'll be nice to give them an opportunity to perform in front of a crowd in a real international game. This also gives us the opportunity to evaluate some players for the Olympic pool and see if they can if they can make it for qualifying.

"The theme of the whole camp was guys staking their claim guys, you know, looking to improve their situation and get a firm grasp of where they fit in in the player pool. So I think the game is gonna give us the opportunity to evaluate that."

Berhalter declined to be drawn into a discussion about whether he would ask clubs to release players like Pulisic for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The U.S. hasn't qualified since the 2008 games in Beijing, and faces a difficult path to qualification, with both Mexico and Costa Rica in its qualifying group.

"It's going to be a difficult qualifying process," he said. "The roster is 17 players plus three goalkeepers, There's a lot of games in a short amount of time. A couple of the games are outside the FIFA window. We're going to need a lot of cooperation from Major League Soccer, and I know that's difficult given the early stage of their season.

"But as far as we're concerned, it's a concerted effort to field a strong team for qualifying and to qualify for the Olympics. If and when we do that, it will be a different set of conversations."