BLACKBURN Rovers have been given a massive boost ahead of next season as keeper Brad Friedel has pulled out of the USA squad.

The Blues' Player of the Year will miss his country's Confederations Cup matches next month to give himself a welcome break this summer following another gruelling campaign.

Friedel hasn't had a decent break from football for two years after helping the USA to the World Cup quarter-finals last summer, then Rovers to sixth spot in the Premiership.

But after a series of remarkable displays that earned him the honour of being named the Premiership's top stopper, the 32-year-old has told national coach Bruce Arena he is too exhausted to compete for his country in France.

He was also excused from the midweek friendly against Wales on Tuesday, which the USA won 2-0.

It will be welcome news for boss Graeme Souness, who considered Friedel to be worth an extra 20 points to Rovers during a memorable campaign last season.

And the goalkeeper's break from action will allow him to prime himself for a hectic schedule next term as Blackburn prepare for another assault on the UEFA Cup.

Rovers Chief Executive John Williams said: "It's great news that Brad is being given a break.

"The US Coach, Bruce Arena, has always been very good with both Blackburn and and Brad and is happy to use him and Kasey Keller to ease the workload on both.

"We are planning to have a pre-season tour of America and Brad will join up again with us for that."

That will allow Friedel to stay close to his American roots during the summer months, where he plans to return to his native California to launch a series of soccer schools with ITV pundit Barry Venison.

Meanwhile, Friedel's absence from the international scene could pave the way for Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann to take his place in the team to face Turkey, Brazil and Cameroon in the Confederations Cup.

Also in contention for a place is New York Metrostars stopper Tim Howard who, like Friedel, is believed to be interesting Manchester United.