Antonio Conte 'confident' Son Heung-min can come back for World Cup

Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Bournemouth, England.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte is confident that Son Heung-min will be able to come back quickly and play for Korea at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Speaking to reporters after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Liverpool, Conte said Son is out of hospital and is hoping to recover in time the for World Cup.

“I sent him a message yesterday after the surgery and Sonny was really, really disappointed for this situation but I hope for him he will recover very well and play in the World Cup,” Conte said on Sunday.

“I was a player and I know the importance of playing in the World Cup. Tonight he was the first person to play this game, for sure he missed us. I am confident, confident that he can come back quickly and play the World Cup for South Korea.”

Son’s eye socket was fractured after Chancel Mbemba’s shoulder connected with his face during the 29th minute of a Champions League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Marseille at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, France.

Son’s face appeared to be heavily swollen and he was helped off the pitch by medical staff. An image posted on Instagram by teammate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg after the game showed Son celebrating the win with the team, but he appears to be struggling to open his left eye.

Tottenham announced on Wednesday that Son would require surgery, but provided no further information on the extent of his injury.

The Korea Football Association said on Saturday that Son successfully underwent surgery on fractures around his left eye, but it is still too early to determine whether he will be fit to appear for Korea at the Qatar World Cup.

The injury comes just three weeks before the start of the 2022 Qatar World Cup where Son was expected to captain the Korean national football team. Surgery does not immediately preclude him from national duty, according to some experts, but whether he is able to play, perhaps wearing a mask, will depend on the extent of the surgery and his recovery.

For Korean national team head coach Paulo Bento the injury creates a very perilous situation. Son is the most-capped active player in the Korean team, with over 100 national team appearances, and the top active goalscorer, with 35.

He has been at the center of every full-strength attacking line Korea has fielded for the best part of the last decade, and although Bento has a large number of midfielders to choose from, few have the versatility and none have the experience that Son brings to the squad.

Korea take on Uruguay in their first game of the Qatar World Cup at Education City Stadium in Qatar on Nov. 24.

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