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Swansea’s Ki joins Team Korea for training

Aug 28,2017
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Ki Sung-yueng
Swansea City midfielder Ki Sung-yueng said Friday he is recovering from knee surgery faster than expected ahead of national team duty.

Ki arrived home early Friday to join Korea’s training at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi, where the national players have been training for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Korea is scheduled to host Iran next Thursday before taking on Uzbekistan in Tashkent on Sept. 5.

Ki went under the knife for his right knee in June after Korea’s World Cup qualifier against Qatar in Doha, where the national team suffered a 3-2 loss. He was originally scheduled to join the national team next Monday along with other Europe-based players, but Ki said he was able to come to the training center early after getting Swansea’s approval.

“I had to take examination after my surgery and since I wasn’t able to play for my club anyway, Swansea allowed me to join the national team early,” Ki told reporters at the National Football Center. “I’m getting better and recovering faster than I thought.”

Ki said his surgery was not just about clearing the inflammation in his right knee, but also included tendon repair and necrotic tissue removal.

“The surgery got bigger than I thought, but it went well,” he said. “It was mentally good for me to know how much I have recovered from surgery. Since I’ve been a player for Swansea for five years, we trust each other and there was no big problem for me to come here early.”

Swansea previously announced that Ki would be available from mid-September. When asked about whether he could play in the World Cup qualifiers, Ki said that was up to the head coach, Shin Tae-yong.

“My goal is to build up my form in the time I have,” he said. “I don’t worry about my stamina, but what I’m actually concerned about is my feel for the game because I haven’t played matches for a while.”

Shin, who was appointed in July after his predecessor, Uli Stielike, was fired, said he picked Ki because he would be helpful to the national team even if the 28-year-old couldn’t play.

“I feel grateful that the coach has such faith in me,” Ki said. “Whether I play or not, I’m ready to help the team and that’s why I came here.”

Ki wore a captain’s armband under Stielike, but with the arrival of the new head coach and selection of veterans like 38-year-old striker Lee Dong-gook and 34-year-old winger Yeom Ki-hun, it’s uncertain whether Ki can still maintain his captaincy. The former Celtic player said he doesn’t know who will be the captain, but what’s certain is that the veteran players are actually making the team better.

“I’m desperate for the World Cup and I feel responsibility, so there are still many things that I can do for this team,” he said.

Yonhap