South Korean footballer Ki Sung-yueng, hoping to represent the country at the World Cup this summer, has asked his English club to allow him to return home before the end of the current season to recover from a knee injury, his father said Thursday.
Ki Young-ok, father of the Sunderland midfielder, said the 25-year-old is waiting for the English Premier League club's final decision.
"Ki Sung-yueng has asked the team to let him leave early," said the senior Ki, who is president of the municipal football association in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul. "Head coach Gus Poyet will make the final decision after Sunderland's away match against Manchester United on Saturday."
Ki is dealing with tendinitis in his right knee and has missed the past three games. The veteran of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is an integral member of the South Korean midfield and should be among the easier choices for the World Cup team for this year's tourney in Brazil.
Two other South Korean World Cup hopefuls, forward Park Chu-young and defensive back Park Joo-ho, have also come back home before the end of their respective seasons in England and Germany, respectively.
Ki, originally under contract with another Premier League side, Swansea City, is playing for Sunderland on a loan. Even if he were healthy, Ki will not be allowed to face Swansea City on the final day of the season on May 11.
Ki is due to rejoin Swansea City after this season.
"I think Sunderland may feel that it'd be better off for him to focus on a quick recovery (at home) if he can't play in the last match anyway," Ki Young-ok said. "Sung-yueng will follow whatever decision the team reaches."
Earlier this week, Poyet told South Wales Evening Post newspaper that his midfielder "needs to be treated carefully."
"It's not something that has come on suddenly; he has had a problem with it for a while," the coach said. "He had been playing through it but it slowly got worse and now I really don't know if it will be possible for him to play again for us. We will hope for the best and we will see."
Sunderland is currently in 17th place with 32 points after 35 matches, barely out of the relegation zone of the bottom three clubs in the 20-team league. Norwich City, in 18th place, also has 32 points but has played one more match than Sunderland. (Yonhap)