Hwang Hee-chan returns to training after hamstring injury
Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Southampton 3-1 on Saturday despite a string of injuries leaving the club without key players including Korean forward Hwang Hee-chan.
Wolves continued to look strong on Saturday, with a 37th-minute Raul Jimenez penalty giving then an early lead that was cemented by a 59th-minute shot from Conor Coady and an insurance goal in the 91st minute from Adama Traore. Wolves are now unbeaten in five games, with their last loss coming at the hands of Manchester City on Dec. 11.
Hwang was sidelined after suffering an injury on Dec. 15 in the early stages of a Premier League clash with Brighton. He left the pitch in the 12th minute of the game after a collision with Brighton full-back Tariq Lamptey. Brighton were awarded a free kick, and Hwang attempted to continue playing but left the pitch moments later, grabbing his thigh.
It appeared from replays of the incident that Hwang's toe may have got stuck in the ground, causing a brief hyperextension, likely leading to a hamstring injury. It wasn't until two weeks later that Wolves gave an update on his status, announcing that Hwang had sustained a hamstring injury and would be out of action until February.
But Hwang's recovery appears to be progressing faster than expected. The Korean striker was photographed at Wolves' training last week, with the club also posting a picture of Hwang in training gear on social media on Thursday.
Whether Hwang's return to training means he'll also be making an earlier-than-expected return to the pitch remains to be seen. While Wolves could look to bring Hwang back in the next two weeks, his return to the club would also make him eligible to called up for international duty at the end of the month.
The Korean national football team have two qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup scheduled at the end of the month — against Lebanon on Jan. 27 and Syria on Feb. 1. Currently, both Hwang and Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min are out with injuries and likely to miss the international games, although Korean head coach Paulo Bento would jump at the opportunity to bring either player back into the squad.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]