Park met the press before starting his rehab program at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, north of Seoul. The forward for Watford in the second English division returned home earlier this month to treat inflammation on his right foot.
After completing his treatment, Park began his rehab at the NFC under the guidance of Seigo Ikeda, the physical trainer of the men’s national team.
|Korea’s Park Chu-young speaks to the media on Thursday. ( Yonhap)|
Rather than rejoining Watford, whose season ends in early May, Park decided to stay put to complete his recovery.
Yet the arrangement sparked debate over whether Park was getting special benefits at the NFC, even though he hadn’t been named to the South Korean squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Park admitted he is aware of the charges of preferential treatment and said putting in hard work on the field is the only thing he could do to silence his critics.
“I’ve come here to try to help the national team, and more than any words, I think it’s important to work hard in practices and games and become a reliable player,” Park said. “As a football player, I think letting football do the talking is the best course of action for me. I wouldn’t even be here if the national team didn’t want me around.”
Hong Myung-bo, the national team head coach, is scheduled to announce the South Korean roster on May 9. Park has 24 goals in 62 international matches and is expected to be named to the World Cup team, given South Korea’s recent history of offensive futility.
The 28-year-old has spent the better part of the past three years in the football netherworld, largely confined to the bench for Arsenal in the Premier League. He got a reprieve in January when Arsenal loaned him to Watford but has seen little action there while dealing with nagging injuries.
Park had earlier faced similar charges of special treatment in March, when Hong called him up for a friendly match against Greece.
Hong had stressed that he would only use players who are getting regular action on their respective clubs, and yet essentially contradicted himself when he inserted Park in the starting lineup against Greece. The forward responded by scoring the eventual winner in South Korea’s 2-0 victory.
Park insisted that his job is to put in work on the field and that his focus is solely on football.
“I have discussed the situation with both Watford and Arsenal, and there’s no problem with my training here,” he said.
“I hope to be able to score an important goal for the national team and play as one with the rest of the squad (at the World Cup).”