Rafa Benitez was left to sweat on the fitness of Ki Sung-yueng yesterday as the midfielder picked up an injury in South Korea’s opening group game at the 2019 Asian Cup.
Newcastle’s midfield gem left Tyneside in December to prepare for the international tournament but saw his first match cut short on Monday.
South Korea got off to a perfect start in the UAE, beating the Philippines 1-0, but Ki was forced off with an injury just before the hour.
It wasn’t long before Newcastle fans were bemoaning yet another setback for one of their midfielders.
Newcastle fans react to Ki injury
— Mark Henderson (韓馬克） (@donmaarko) January 7, 2019
Jonjo Shelvey could be out with a thigh injury now Ki went off injured in the Asian Cup now #NUFC have no creative MF in the squad we’re in big trouble now like
— john_NUFC42 (@john_nufc42) January 7, 2019
Hayden: Transfer Request
Longstaff: Never Started A PL Game
We are screaming out for a CM!
If only Danny Drinkwater wasn’t playing week in, week out at Chelsea! He’s exactly what we need! #NUFC
— Tim Turner (@TimTurner89) January 7, 2019
With Shelvey and Ki out injured we surely can't rely on Diame, Longstaff & a want away Hayden 😳 Relegation fodder #nufc
— Cameron Findlay (@CameronFin1992) January 7, 2019
So Ki suffered a hamstring injury when South Korea defeated Philippines today… May not be too bad, but you never know with hamstring injuries. Could be the end of his tournament, and may subsequently be out for 4-6 weeks. Jesus wept. #NUFC
— NUFC 360 (@NUFC360) January 7, 2019
Ki done his hamstring today.
Almost certainly ruled out of remaining games of tournament.
— Burnsie #NUFC (@Optimistoon) January 7, 2019
However it’s not all doom and gloom just yet for Newcastle fans.
“There’s minor damage to Ki’s right hamstring,” the KFA said. “He needs at least a week for treatment. Our medical team will closely monitor his injury.”
This means he will now miss South Korea’s second group game against Krygyzstan on Friday.
But the positive news is that the injury is not too serious, as certain hamstring problems can often rule players out for months.
However Rafa Benitez will still be somewhat worried.
Ki is his nation’s most experienced player and his management will be desperate to get him back on the pitch.
Tournaments with games in quick succession can effect a player’s fitness, and he has already fallen at the first hurdle.
Benitez will be hopeful that his star man also misses South Korea’s final group game against China on January 16th.
Newcastle need Ki fit on his return to Tyneside, as he’ll likely be coming straight back into a relegation battle.