Tottenham fans will see a familiar face on their screens when they tune in for South Korea’s opening World Cup game against Uruguay on Thursday – sort of.
Premier League star Son Heung-min will line up for his country, but the Spurs man will wear a protective mask.
Son suffered a bad injury on November 1, fracturing his eye socket in a Champions League game against Marseille.
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He underwent surgery soon afterwards, and there were concerns about his involvement in Qatar.
But he was called up to the squad, saying “I won’t miss this for the world”, and was declared fit by manager Paulo Bento on the eve of South Korea’s opener.
“Sonny can play. Yes he will be able to play,” Bento said on Wednesday.
“I think the fact he would be wearing a mask is not an inconvenience for him. It is rather natural for him.
“We have stuck to the plan since we arrived here, and also the way we integrated him into our group shows it has been natural.
“Our hope is he will feel comfortable to the greatest extent possible and we’ll use the best strategy so he will feel at ease during the game.”
Protective masks are by now a relatively common sight in football, helping players with facial injuries continue to compete.
Who else is wearing masks at the World Cup?
DOHA, QATAR – NOVEMBER 23: Thomas Meunier of Belgium during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Belgium and Canada at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
Belgium’s Thomas Meunier, Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol and Tunisia’s Ellyes Skhiri have already been seen on World Cup pitches wearing face masks this year.
Meunier came off the bench during Belgium’s 1-0 win over Canada on Wednesday, Gvardiol started in Croatia’s 0-0 draw with Morocco, while Skhiri played the full game as Tunisia held Denmark to a goalless draw.
The Belgian is wearing a mask after fracturing his cheekbone in a game against Hannover earlier this season, while Gvardiol sported a black mask as he recovers from breaking his nose on November 10.
Son, 30, is South Korea’s captain and has scored 35 goals in 105 caps for his country.
The Asian country are up against Uruguay, Ghana and Portugal in Group H.
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