Despite a thigh injury that sidelined him for two matches in England, midfielder Claudio Reyna has been called up to the U.S. national team for a pair of World Cup qualifiers.

Reyna, the U.S. team's captain and playmaker, is expected to report to U.S. camp in Washington on Sunday, American Coach Bruce Arena said yesterday.

"It's a strain and these things are day-to-day," Arena said from his home in Fairfax. "We're bringing him in. He might be able to play Saturday for Manchester City, and if not, at best, he can play in one of the games for us. We certainly don't believe it's a long-term problem."

Reyna, 31, missed a 7-1 English Carling Cup victory over Barnsley on Sept. 21 and a 1-0 league loss to defending champion Arsenal this past Saturday. Early reports said he could be sidelined for several weeks, but Manchester City Manager Kevin Keegan indicated yesterday that Reyna might be available this weekend against Southampton.

The U.S. players will begin to arrive in Washington this weekend in preparation for World Cup qualifiers on Oct. 9 at El Salvador (1-2) and Oct. 13 vs. Panama (1-1-1) at RFK Stadium. Reyna, a former University of Virginia star who has been a member of the last three U.S. World Cup squads, played every minute of the first three semifinal-round qualifiers.

The U.S. team (1-0-2) likely would wrap up a berth in next year's final round of qualifying with a victory and tie in these next two games. Its group finale is scheduled for Nov. 17 vs. Jamaica (1-1-1) in Columbus, Ohio. The top two finishers in the four-team group will advance to the final round.

Arena said 24 players would be called into the upcoming training camp. A roster announcement is expected late this week.

-- Steven Goff

Claudio Reyna may be available when the U.S. team plays at El Salvador and Oct. 13 at RFK Stadium vs. Panama.