Dempsey back in action for Fulham

American midfielder Clint Dempsey returned from a 7 1/2-week

layoff, entering as a second-half substitute Thursday night as

Fulham lost to Juventus 3-1 in the first leg of the Europa League’s

third round.

The 27-year-old from Nacogdoches, Texas, replaced Simon

Davies in the 61st minute, his first appearance since injuring his

right knee in a Premier League game against Blackburn on Jan. 17.

It was initially feared that the injury might cause him to miss the

World Cup, but the Cottagers said two days later that Dempsey’s

knee had sustained only moderate damage.

Dempsey has 17 goals in 60 international appearances for the

U.S. and seven goals this season for Fulham, including six in the

Premier League.

Juventus, a two-time European champion, got goals from Nicola

Legrottaglie in the ninth minute, Jonathan Zebina in the 25th and

David Trezeguet in the third minute of first-half stoppage time.

Dickson Etuhu scored in the 36th minute for the Cottagers.

The return leg of the home-and-home, total-goal series is at

Craven Cottage on March 18.