The veteran pair have both been sidelined since March but their national team boss is optimistic they will be back soon

U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski has said he is expecting Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe to be back for the team’s January camp.

The duo’s extended absence from the field continued on Tuesday as both were omitted from the USWNT roster for their upcoming friendly at the Netherlands.

Neither player has seen the field since March. Lloyd missed out of the NWSL Challenge Cup and the Fall Series for Sky Blue FC as she continued to deal with a knee injury. 

Rapinoe, meanwhile, opted out of both competitions with OL Reign. Andonovski said last month that he still considers the 2019 World Cup Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner a part of his plans moving forward.

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In a conference call on Tuesday, Andonovski expressed optimism that the duo, along with injured winger Mallory Pugh, will return for the team’s camp in January.

“Mal has a little bit of an injury and she’s still recovering,” Andonovski said of Pugh. “She’s not 100 percent back from her injury but she’s on track to be back probably in 2-3 weeks which is very exciting. 

“With Carli Lloyd she had a little injury and a little surgery that she’s also recovering [from] and right now she’s not physically ready for the game.

“Rapinoe is in a situation where she’s not able to train and we know she didn’t do the Challenge Cup [and] the Fall Series and she was not able to train in a team environment, so from a physical perspective and this short camp that we have, [we] will not be able to help her to get her up to speed. 

“Regardless all three of them are on track to be ready for the January camp or at least we hope at that point they’re going to be ready for the January camp.”

As Rapinoe has leaned more into her role as an activist – her book came out earlier this month – there have been suggestions that the 35-year-old has moved on from her role as a player. 

Andonovski, though, was quick to refute that suggestion, saying he expected Rapinoe to be in the mix as the USWNT looks ahead to the Olympics in Tokyo, which begin in July 2021.

“I’m excited about where they’re at and after talking to both of them,” Andonovski said of Lloyd and Rapinoe.

“I had a conversation with Carli and I had a great conversation with Pinoe as well, I don’t think either one of them, and in particular Pinoe, have moved on.

“They’re excited and looking forward to January camp and not just January camp, they’re looking forward to the challenges in front of them and the Olympics.”

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