No club v country issues for Bolton Wanderers' Korean ace Chung-Yong Lee
LONG-DISTANCE jet-setter Chung-Yong Lee has been assured he will be free to commit himself to South Korea’s World Cup preparations.
Wanderers’ flying winger was restricted to a 20-minute cameo apperance in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday at the Reebok after flying back from international duty.
And although it is a far from ideal situation for a player who has struggled with fitness issues this season, Dougie Freedman accepts the Koreans will make demands on him as they build up to next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
But he has advised the former FC Seoul midfielder he must also focus on getting back to his best at Championship level. “He’s got all his international stuff round the corner but he’s got to make sure he concentrates on his club football because that’s where he is going to find his form,” Freedman said.
“He hasn’t been fully fit, he’s been all over the world playing for his country, but I said to him on Friday we have got to nail him down and know how he is playing.
“He didn’t start on Saturday because he’s been travelling but he can give you that 20 minutes off the bench and when he gets those run of games we will see the best of him again.”
Freedman has held talks with Chung-Yong over his recent form but told The Bolton News at the weekend the wide man would not be sold in January, as had been speculated elsewhere, and that he planned to get him back to his best before Christmas.
Although travelling to and from Korea – a round trip of some 11,000 miles – presents an obstacle to Chung-Yong’s club form, the Wanderers boss will not ask him to tone down his commitments to his national team.
“Certainly not,” he said. “He’s got a World Cup to prepare for and as a football club that’s a huge advantage for us as well.
“We’ve got to get the timing better with Chungy as well – in terms of his fitness. He was rushed back (into the first team) because of the injury crisis we had at the start of the season.
“Maybe coming off the bench once or twice might actually help him in the long run.
“He’s got one more international break and then I have got three or four months of having him all to myself.
“It has been a bit stop-start fitness-wise but now we need to make sure he is strong enough in his legs to get through a couple more games, one more international, and then I have got him until the Christmas period when, as I have said before, we’ll see the best of him.”