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Mexico's "Little Pea" accepts likely supporting role

Reuters

By Matias Martinez

SANTOS, Brazil, June 10 (Reuters) - Mexcio's Javier Hernandez is set to start on the bench for Friday's World Cup match against Cameroon but he will accept such a decision philosophically despite being his country's highest active scorer with 35 goals.

Coach Miguel Herrera has kept his cards close to his chest on who will be in his lineup for the Group A match at the Dunas arena in Natal but Oribe Peralta and Giovani dos Santos are likely to be his strike force judging by recent practice.

"I've never taken a sure place for granted, not even in the second (division), third or reserves, not at my previous clubs," Hernandez told Reuters in an interview.

"In no way do I feel like a first-choice player, that's how I've felt from when I was 12 or 13.

"We all want to win a place, in training and in past matches we wanted to show we can be considered," added the former Guadalajara striker nicknamed "Chicharito" (little pea).

Hernandez, third top scorer of all-time for Mexico with a tally of 35 after Jared Borgetti (46) and Cuauhtemoc Blanco (39), is struggling in frotn of goal and has not found the net for the "Tri", as the national team is known, since June when he hit two against Japan at the Confederations Cup.

He has also suffered a drought with his club Manchester United. After scoring 20, 12 and 18 goals in his first three seasons at Old Trafford under former manager Alex Ferguson, he managed only nine in his limited appearances last season.

"More than finding it motivational (to be a reserve), it's (a matter of) respect, because in this profession nothing's certain," he said.

"I never try to settle for what I have, obviously, every footballer would like to play and if I get the chance I'll kill myself on the pitch because I fought all these years to be at the World Cup," added the 26-year-old.

After playing Cameroon, Mexico face hosts Brazil in Fortaleza on June 17 followed six days later by Croatia.

They are looking to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since they hosted the tournament in 1986, having been knocked out in the second round at the last five.

"The simple fact of being in the squad makes me happy, very motivated, with a new dream and trying to enjoy it to the maximum," added Hernandez, who is at his second finals after playing in South Africa in 2010 when he scored twice. (Writing by Rex Gowar; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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