Swanson returns to training with US women ahead of the first Women's Gold Cup

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Mallory Swanson is returning to the U.S. national team, but she's not ready to play in a match just yet.

Swanson, who injured her left knee last April and missed the Women's World Cup, will train with the United States for the inaugural CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup but she won't play in tournament games.

Swanson was the team's leading scorer with seven goals in six games when she injured her knee in a match against Ireland in the run-up to the World Cup. The injury to her patella tendon required surgery.

The 23-player roster announced by interim coach Twila Kilgore on Wednesday includes teenagers Olivia Moultrie and Jaedyn Shaw, but leaves off veterans Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan.

Kilgore said the Gold Cup will give younger players a chance to experience a tournament similar to the Olympic format. The United States has qualified for this year's Paris Games.

“Nobody is out of the mix,” Kilgore said. “That goes for some of our bigger names, that goes for lesser names that we've been tracking. We want to get it right, and everybody's still involved. This is more about the fact that there can only be 23 people on the roster, and as we head toward the Olympics, only 18. We just simply can't include everybody and this is the group that we feel is the right group for right now and who we need to look at in this tournament.”

Emma Hayes was named head coach of the United States last fall, but she is remaining with Chelsea until the end of the Women's Super League season and won't take over her new job fulltime until May.

The Gold Cup kicks off on Feb. 17. The United States opens play on Feb. 20 against either Guyana or the Dominican Republic in Carson, California. The tournament concludes on March 10.

Joining Swanson as training players are midfielder Savannah DeMelo and defender Gisele Thompson. Alyssa Thompson, Gisele's sister who was on the team's World Cup roster, was left off because of a minor back injury, Kilgore said.

“We believe she's absolutely ready for this step,” Kilgore said about Swanson's participation. “She's just a really important leader on this team. She's stayed connected and involved in different ways while going through her recovery and this is just the next natural progression.”

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U.S. roster:

Goalkeepers: Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders: Alana Cook (Seattle Reign), Abby Dahlkemper (San Diego Wave), Crystal Dunn (NJ/NY Gotham), Tierna Davidson (NJ/NY Gotham), Emily Fox (Arsenal), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit), Jenna Nighswonger (NY/NJ Gotham)

Midfielders: Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns), Lindsey Horan (Lyon), Rose Lavelle (NJ/NY Gotham), Olivia Moultrie (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham)

Forwards: Mia Fishel (Chelsea), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham)

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer