Gangwon FC forward Lee Keun-ho will miss out on representing South Korea at this year’s Fifa World Cup in Russia after tearing ligaments in his right knee.
The 33-year-old, Asia's player of the Year in 2012, sustained the injury during a Korean League match against Gyeongnam FC last Saturday.
According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, though Lee was stretchered off the field, his club initially said the injury wasn’t serious and he’d be able to compete in the World Cup.
However, further tests revealed severe damage: a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee, seeing him join the South Korea national team's injury list.
Another man down for South Korea
Lee’s absence was confirmed by the Korea Football Association (KFA) on Tuesday.
"Lee Keun-ho had been preparing for this World Cup thinking it’d be his last," South Korea’s head coach Shin Tae-yong said. "It’s quite disappointing. I was hoping he would be a great leader as the team’s oldest player."
He now joins first-choice central defender Kim Min-jae, with a hairline fracture to his shin, and winger Kwon Chang-hoon, who ruptured his Achilles, in pulling out of the squad with injury.
There are also doubts over the fitness of full back Kim Jin-soo, who has suffered a knee injury, and midfielder Yeom Ki-hun, who suffered a rib fracture earlier this month.