SUWON -- South Korea men's national football head coach Shin Tae-yong said Wednesday he will call up Ki Sung-yueng and Son Heung-min for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers despite their injuries.
Shin, who took over the team last month after Uli Stielike's ouster, will announce his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Iran and Uzbekistan next Monday. In the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, South Korea are currently in second place in Group A with 13 points, sitting just one point up on Uzbekistan.
In Asia, the top two teams from Groups A and B can advance directly to the World Cup in Russia. The two third-place teams must go through playoffs for their final chance. South Korea are scheduled to host already qualified Iran on Aug. 31 and face Uzbekistan in Tashkent on Sept. 5 for the finale.
Shin said he is in the final stretch of selecting 26 players and will pick those who are already on his mind unless they are injured this weekend. But the 48-year-old said Ki, who is with English Premier League club Swansea City, is an exception.
Ki went under the knife last month to remove inflammation in his right knee. Swansea recently announced he will be able to be back in action mid-September.
"I want to give Ki the captain's armband even if he can't play," Shin told reporters during halftime at the Korea Football Association Cup quarterfinal between the Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Gwangju FC in Suwon, just south of Seoul. "Ki has been serving a central role well in the national team."
With Ki certain to be included in the roster, Shin also hinted at selecting Tottenham Hotspur attacker Son, who broke his right forearm after landing awkwardly during South Korea's World Cup qualifier against Qatar in June.
The former Bayer Leverkusen forward, however, recently joined Tottenham's training.
"I think Son has recovered enough to play the World Cup qualifiers," Shin said. "He will not have a big problem."
Son did not feature for the London club during preseason due to injury. When asked about whether the 25-year-old will be fully fit to play, Shin said he believes that Son will find his form after playing few EPL matches. Tottenham kick off their new season with Newcastle United on Saturday.
"I can't call up Son early, but once he returns to South Korea we will check up on his condition," he said. "Then I have to think about whether I should start him or use him as a substitute."
Shin will train with his national players in the domestic K League starting on Aug. 21 at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. South Korea are looking for their ninth consecutive World Cup appearance. (Yonhap)
|South Korea national football coach Shin Tae-yong (C) watches the Korea Football Association Cup quarterfinal match between Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Gwangju FC at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Aug. 9, 2017. (Yonhap)|