Son Heung-min a doubt for World Cup after fracturing eye socket
- Spurs forward needs surgery on injury sustained at Marseille
- South Korea play Uruguay at Qatar World Cup on 24 November
Son Heung-min is set to undergo surgery to stabilise a fracture around his left eye – putting his World Cup with South Korea in jeopardy.
The Tottenham forward was injured during his team’s Champions League win at Marseille on Tuesday night which secured their qualification to the knockout phase of the competition.
Son jumped midway through the first half to try to flick on a high ball but he was caught in sickening fashion by Marseille’s Chancel Mbemba, who had stepped up to contest it with him.
Son was laid out and, after lengthy treatment, he was helped off the pitch, visibly disorientated. There were fears that he had suffered a concussion but the reality, as disclosed by Spurs in a statement, is worse.
The club say that Son will begin a rehabilitation programme with their medical staff after the operation and they intend to update supporters on the time-frame of his absence in due course. They did not want to say on Wednesday night whether he was out of the World Cup because it will depend on the surgery and how his recovery goes.
No two cases are the same but the 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 at the European Championship within three weeks.
South Korea have been drawn in a World Cup group with Uruguay, Ghana and Portugal.
They kick off against Uruguay on 24 November. Son is arguably the most high-profile Asian footballer in the world, the captain and talisman for his country, and South Korea would be devastated were he to be unavailable.
The 30-year-old was the Premier League’s joint top scorer last season with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and although he has struggled for goals this time out, finding the net three times in the league and twice in the Champions League, he remains a dangerous and influential player.
Antonio Conte, the Spurs manager, is already without two key attackers in Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison. At least Lucas Moura has returned to action after a tendon problem. His other options for the front line are Harry Kane and Bryan Gil.
Spurs have three more games before the World Cup – in the league at home to Liverpool and Leeds on Sunday and the following Saturday, respectively, either side of a Carabao Cup tie at Nottingham Forest next Wednesday.