Knee issue sidelines midfielder from game

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Knee issue sidelines midfielder from game

Park Ji-sung’s right knee is acting up again. The 29-year-old captain of the national team was set to start at center midfield but was sidelined in the friendly match against Japan last night and replaced with Yoon Bitgaram after experiencing sudden pain in his knee on Monday.

Park had participated in team training at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi, since arriving in Korea on Oct. 4 but the latest news has raised concerns over Park’s repaired right knee.

Park first underwent surgery to remove a portion of the cartilaginous plate on his right knee in March 2003 while playing for PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch League. With his ligaments partially damaged, he underwent another surgery in April 2007.

National-team physicians have said there’s not much to worry about and the pain will subside with rest, but the latest turn of events has been a blow to Park, who is off to a sluggish start to the current season with Manchester United of the English Premier League.

His right knee fills with fluid whenever he is fatigued or exposed to stress. After playing in a friendly match against Senegal in Seoul in October last year, Park’s knee filled with fluid upon returning to Manchester and he was sidelined for more than a month. Also suffering from a fever, Park ended up missing five consecutive games.

Park has suffered significant injuries twice after competing for the national team in the past. After playing in an Asian Cup qualifying match against Taiwan in September of 2006, Park returned to England to play against Tottenham. He ended up injuring his ankle and after a surgery to repair the damage, Park needed more than three months to recover from the injury. In April of 2007, Park played in a friendly against Uruguay only to injure his knee in his first game back against Blackburn. Park ended up missing a total of 270 days.

Park’s knee was cleared by Manchester United’s team physicians in August but the 13- to 14-hour flights and national team’s training schedule could have aggravated the midfielder’s knee.

“Considering the state of Park’s right knee, he should have been eased into training but the two-a-day training sessions with the national team could’ve caused the latest problem,” said one physiotherapist.

Park will return to Manchester today and after an examination from team doctors, will undergo rehabilitation.

By Choi Won-chang []
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