Kwon cut from World Cup squad in setback for South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Veteran forward Lee Keun-ho has been ruled out of South Korea’s World Cup squad a day after star midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon was sidelined because of an injury he picked up playing for his French club on the weekend.

The Korea Football Association on Tuesday said Lee, who has 84 international caps for South Korea, tore a torn medial ligament in his right knee during a K League game last weekend.

The latest injuries are a serious setback for South Korea and its chances of negotiating Group F games against Sweden, Mexico and Germany.

The 23-year-old Kwon ruptured an Achilles tendon playing for Dijon on Saturday in the last match of the French Ligue 1 season.

Coach Shin Tae-yong is not expected to call for replacements for either Kwon or Lee, leaving him with 26 players for the pre-World Cup period.

Defender Kim Min-jae and midfielder Yeom Ki-hun had earlier been left out of the initial 28-man squad announced last week. Fullback Kim Jin-su is being monitored ahead of the June 4 deadline when the final 23-player squads must be confirmed.

Shin opened camp Monday with three forwards: Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min, FC Red Bull Salzburg’s Hwang Hee-chan and Jeonbuk’s Kim Shin-wook.

Captain Ki Sung-yeung told fans at a news conference in Seoul on Monday that the team is ready to challenge in Russia despite the setbacks.

”I know we have some injured players, but I have high expectations,” Ki said. ”Our country has shown its power even when it has been in a difficult situation. I’m ready to lead the players as the captain.”