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You’d never have guessed that Clint Dempsey’s been playing football non-stop for the best part of four years. The nature of his international commitments for the United States mean that when Fulham’s season finishes, he’s usually straight on a plane to play through the summer with his compatriots. But he’s more than enthusiastic about his international challenges ahead.

He’s been talking about the forthcoming friendly with Spain – which, despite their high profile, takes second place to the Gold Cup.

This is a friendly. They’re a great team, and they’re the world champions, but our focus for that game is as preparation for the Gold Cup. We want to win that tournament.

He recalls how the Americans pulled off a massive shock the last time they faced the Spanish in the Confederations Cup semi-final.

We played a very good game against Spain that day, and maybe we got a little bit lucky, but we defended well and after we scored the [first] goal, I think they got a little nervous and started rushing.

Any time you can play a team like Spain it can help you. Of course we want to win, but we have more important games coming up.

The forthcoming Gold Cup is important to the States not just to underlined their continental supremacy but also as the winners qualify for the next Confederations Cup, held in Brazil in 2013. Coming just a year before the Brazilians host the World Cup, this will be an important dress rehearsal for the major championships and allow the Americans to acclimatise during an international tournament. Dempsey’s not taking any of their Gold Cup opponents lightly, however.

Having played in two Gold Cups [2005, 2007], I can tell you that we’ve learned not to take any team lightly. Canada has a very good team, and I remember one year [2005] Panama got to the final, so we have to be on our game.

Dempsey has long been an established member of his national side, but after years of battling to achieve a similar status with his club has now become one of the first names on the Fulham team-sheet. His performances during the past season, which saw him score 12 goals and become Fulham’s leading Premier League scorer, have settled impressed national coach Bob Bradley.

I think that Clint continues to be a player that improves and establishes himself more with his teammates and his managers. He’s got an ability to make a chance for himself out of nothing. He’s got an instinct and an aggressiveness to get into spots and score goals and I think that continues to show.