Tottenham`s Son Heung-min receives medical attention during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates stadium in London, England on March 14. (AP-Yonhap)
Tottenham Hotspur's injured Korean star Son Heung-min has been ruled out of his country's friendly match against Japan this week.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced Sunday that Son will not be made available by the Premier League club for Thursday's match in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo.
Son suffered a left hamstring injury during a Premier League match against Arsenal in London last Sunday. The match was played in the early hours of Monday in South Korea, and merely hours after Son's injury, national team head coach Paulo Bento announced his 24-man roster for the Japan match that included Son.
Bento acknowledged he had no immediate update on Son's status at the time and the KFA remained in contact with Tottenham throughout the week over Son's status. The dynamic attacker missed Tottenham's Europa League match on Thursday.
On the eve of that continental match, Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho wondered aloud why the KFA even called up Son.
"So, if we arrive next week and Son is injured and we can obviously prove that to the South Korean Football Association, what is he going to do there? Nothing," Mourinho said. "So if a player cannot play for the club, the player cannot play for the country."
Bento's team was already shorthanded before Son was sidelined, with other key players either suffering injuries of their own or not getting the green light from their clubs.
Clubs are normally obligated to release their international players for FIFA-sanctioned matches. However, under temporary rule changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, clubs don't have to make those players available, depending on travel restrictions in their respective countries.
Bento will not have the services of Bordeaux forward Hwang Ui-jo, Beijing Guoan defender Kim Min-jae, Shandong Taishan midfielder Son Jun-ho and Holstein Kiel midfielder Lee Jae-sung.
RB Leipzig forward Hwang Hee-chan was on the initial 24-man roster but was also ruled out because of quarantine rules in Germany.
Also on Sunday, Gwangju FC midfielder Um Won-sang was dropped from the national team with a left knee injury sustained during a K League 1 match on Saturday. Bento also cut Gamba Osaka midfielder Ju Se-jong following Ju's positive COVID-19 test.
The KFA named three replacements for Son, Um and Ju: Gangwon FC midfielder Cho Jae-wan, Ulsan Hyundai FC forward Kim In-sung, and Daejeon Hana Citizen midfielder Lee Jin-hyun.
The 80th match between South Korea and Japan, and their first since December 2019, will kick off at 7:20 p.m. Thursday. South Korea have 42 wins, 23 draws and 14 losses so far. (Yonhap)