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Son Heung-min is back on the pitch for the first time since sustaining a fracture around his left eye in Tottenham’s Champions League win over Marseille at the start of November. Starting the crucial game in the south of France, the 30-year-old was only on the field for 29 minutes after a clash with Chancel Mbemba.
Needing to undergo surgery to stabilise the fracture, questions marks were raised over his place in South Korea’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar. With his home nation understandably sweating over his fitness given he is their main man, the player was confirmed in Paulo Bento’s 26-man squad 11 days after sustaining the injury.
Needing to wear a protective mask in training as a result of the surgery, the Tottenham forward will continue to wear it during the tournament, including in Thursday afternoon’s match against Uruguay. Captaining his side in their Group H opener, Son comes up against Spurs teammate Rodrigo Bentancur in the encounter at Education City Stadium.
On the eve of the tournament, Bento was asked about Son’s fitness and whether he would be fit enough to start against the South American side. Confirming that he will indeed play, the Lisbon-born boss told the press conference that the player’s mask will not be an inconvenience to the Tottenham star.
“Sonny can play. Yes he will be able to play,” he explained on Wednesday. “I think the fact that 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. We will see tomorrow how it will be. 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.”