Son returns to London after injury-stricken international break
Son Heung-min flew back to England on Wednesday to rejoin Tottenham Hotspur after a week on duty with the Korean national team, but whether he'll actually be fit to play for the club this weekend remains unclear.
Son sat out Korea's game against Lebanon on Tuesday after complaining of discomfort in his right leg during training on Monday. He was later diagnosed with a strained right calf and spent Tuesday's game in the stands watching Korea struggle to a slim 1-0 win.
The Korea Football Association made it clear at the time that Son's removal from Tuesday's game was purely precautionary. Head coach Paulo Bento later confirmed that Son had first felt pain during training on Saturday and then again on Monday, prompting the coaching staff to rest him on Tuesday.
Neither the KFA statement or Bento's comments make it clear whether Son can be expected to be fit this weekend, when Spurs take on Crystal Palace in the first in a series of important London derbies. Son flew back to England on Wednesday and will be checked by Tottenham's own medical staff upon arrival.
If Son is forced to miss a game, he won't be alone.
Tottenham are currently sitting at the top of the Premier League table as the only club that has won all three games so far this season. The London club entered the international break on a high, but look set to return in a very different position. As well as Son and his possible calf injury, Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero, Davinson Sanchez, Oliver Skipp, Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Sessegnon are all likely to miss games.
Lo Celso, Romero and Sanchez all defied the club and traveled to countries on Britain's "red list" to play games during the international break.
Lo Celso and Romero both flew to Brazil to join the Argentinian squad, a decision that ended up derailing the entire match as the duo were among four players to enter the country from Britain in breach of Brazilian quarantine measures, causing the game to be stopped by health authorities and ultimately canceled.
Sanchez flew to Bolovia where he joined the Colombian national team. The three are now training in Croatia for 10 days before they are able to enter England and rejoin Tottenham, where they will also likely be fined for leaving in the first place.
Like Son, Oliver Skipp, Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Sessegnon all picked up injuries while on international duty.
Injuries have been an increasing issue for Son in recent years. After a few years with very little trouble, Son sat out six Premier League games in the 2019-20 season when his arm was fractured in a game against Aston Villa. Last season he also missed six games through a series of Hamstring injuries.
Son has already missed one game this season, again because of a hamstring injury.
Tottenham's next three Premier League games will all be London derbies — against Crystal Palace on Saturday, Chelsea on Sept. 19 and Arsenal on Sept. 26.
As well as those three important games, Son will also want to be fit for Spurs' Carabao Cup game on Sept. 22 against Wolverhampton Wanderers, his first chance to face off against Hwang Hee-chan since the younger Korean star joined the Premier League last week.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]