Son Heung-min has to undergo surgery to stabilize a fracture around his left eye – putting his World Cup with him South Korea in danger.
The Tottenham striker picked up the injury in his side’s Champions League win at Marseille on Tuesday night which ensured their qualification for the knockout stage of the competition.
Son jumped up midway through the first half to try and shoot a high ball, but was sickeningly caught by Marseille’s Chancel Mbemba, who had risen to challenge it with him.
Son was laid down and, after a long treatment, he was helped out of the field, visibly disoriented. It was feared he suffered a concussion but the reality, as revealed by Spurs in a statement, is worse.
The club said Son would begin a rehabilitation program with their medical staff following the operation and intended to inform supporters of the length of his absence in due course. They would not say on Wednesday night whether he will miss the World Cup as it will depend on the operation and how his recovery goes.
No two cases are the same, but optimists might point out that Kevin De Bruyne fractured his eye socket in the 2021 Champions League final for Manchester City against Chelsea and was playing for Belgium in the Premier League. Europe within three weeks.
South Korea have been drawn into a World Cup group with Uruguay, Ghana and Portugal.
They will start against Uruguay on November 24. Son is arguably the most prominent Asian footballer in the world, his country’s captain and talisman, and South Korea would be devastated if he weren’t available.
The 30-year-old was the Premier League’s top scorer last season along with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and although he has struggled for goals this time around, finding the net three times in the league and twice in the Premier League. champions, he remains a dangerous and influential player.
Spurs manager Antonio Conte is already without two key forwards in Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison. At least Lucas Moura returned to action after a tendon problem. His other frontline options are Harry Kane and Bryan Gil.
Spurs have three games left before the World Cup – in the home league against Liverpool and Leeds on Sunday and the following Saturday, respectively, either side of a Carabao Cup tie at Nottingham Forest next Wednesday.
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