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Euro trip offers clues on Shin’s World Cup squad

Jan 08,2018
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Shin Tae-yong, head coach of the Korean men’s football team, speaks with reporters on Friday. [YONHAP]
Shin Tae-yong, head coach of the Korean men’s football team, said Friday that Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino offered hints about their ace attacker Son Heung-min.

Shin returned home after two weeks in Europe, where he inspected national players in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He first checked Troyes AC striker Suk Hyun-jun in France and later went to the United Kingdom to see players like Son, Ki Sung-yueng of Swansea City and Lee Chung-yong of Crystal Palace.

Shin said he met with Spurs boss Pochettino and talked about Son, who has netted 10 goals for the London club in all competitions this season. “Pochettino told me that Son had hard times when he first arrived,” he said, “but that he got better and became a player who can play as striker.”

Son’s main position for Tottenham Hotspur is left winger, but he has occasionally played up front whenever Harry Kane is injured. For the national team, Son also mainly played on the left flank, but Shin recently tested the 25-year-old as center forward in friendly matches.

“Pochettino said Son played well as a lone striker when Kane was injured,” Shin said. “He said Son is a player who can play well in both a one-striker and two-striker system, as well as on the flanks.”

Shin met with Son three times during his stay in England. “Son said he received good energy from me since I also talked with Pochettino,” he said. “Perhaps that’s why he scored goal later [against West Ham United].”

Shin, who took the helm of the national team in July 2017, said he didn’t see Ki or Lee play but was able to speak with them. “Ki is in a condition to play right away,” he said. “I felt like Swansea are not playing Ki because they care so much about the player.”

When asked about Lee, who has appeared in only three league matches this season, Shin said he advised the attacking midfielder to get more playing time.

“Lee is a player who wants to go to the World Cup, but he’s in a situation where he needs to find a new club and get fit,” he said. “Lee is keeping in close touch with his agent, but he really needs to play more matches.”

Shin said he is pleased with Suk, who has five goals in 12 Ligue 1 matches. However, the 26-year-old striker still needs to compete against other national team forwards to earn his spot.

“If Suk doesn’t get injured, he’ll compete with forwards like Kim Shin-wook, Hwang Hee-chan and Jin Sung-wook,” he said. “We’ll need to keep this competition going until the World Cup.”

Yonhap