South Korea star Son needs facial surgery ahead of World Cup

LONDON (AP) — South Korea captain Son Heung-min will undergo surgery on a facial injury, jeopardizing his availability for the World Cup in Qatar.

Son, one of Asian soccer’s most high-profile players, was helped off the field during the first half of Tottenham’s Champions League match at Marseille on Tuesday after taking a shoulder to the face.

Tottenham on Wednesday said Son will have an operation “to stabilize a fracture around his left eye.”

The Premier League club didn’t say how long it expects Son to be sidelined.

“Following surgery,” the team said, “Son will commence rehabilitation with our medical staff and we shall update supporters further in due course.”

The injury, which is dominating the sports news in South Korea, is a blow to the country’s chances of success at a 10th successive World Cup appearance. Son is the team’s captain, top scorer and star player. National team coach Paulo Bento is set to announce his roster on Nov. 12.

“Whether or not Son can participate in the World Cup will be judged after checking the results of his surgery,” the Korea Football Association said in a statement Thursday. “We will continue to cooperate with Tottenham’s medical team.”

The World Cup starts Nov. 20 and South Korea is one of the last teams to play its first group game — against Uruguay on Nov. 24. Portugal and Ghana are also in Group H.

Tottenham has games against Liverpool and Leeds before the Premier League is paused for the World Cup.

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