Tottenham Hotspur manager José Mourinho looked rather grim attending a public press conference on Tuesday for the first leg of the last-16 tie of the UEFA Champions League (UCL). The club posted an announcement, saying, “Son Heung-min is to undergo surgery this week after sustaining a fracture to his right arm. Following surgery, our medical staff shall be reviewing management options for Son’s rehabilitation with the player expected to be sidelined for a number of weeks.” “I would have written a different announcement,” said Mourinho, however, indicating that Son may not be able to play the entire season. Tottenham’s last match in the English Premier League (EPL) is scheduled against Crystal Palace on May 17.
The South Korean footballer injured his arm from a collision with opponent defender Ezri Konsa just 31 seconds into the first round of the match against Aston Villa on Sunday. While striker Harry Kane is taking a long time off due to his hamstring injury, Son played full time – 100 minutes including the extra time in the end – as a lone striker of the team, scoring two goals on the day. Thanks to such outstanding performance despite his injury, Son was selected as one of the best 11 players from the 26th round of the EPL.
Most British media estimate six to eight weeks for Son’s recovery after surgery. “Son’s arm is fractured, rather than broken, which takes about eight weeks for recovery,” said Song Jun-seop, the director of Seoul JS Hospital and the former doctor for the South Korean national football team. “Linear fraction accompanies severe pain. Son must have exceedingly strong mental power.” To a question asking whether continuously playing after such an injury could have made it worse, Song said, “A football player mainly carries his weight in his legs. As long as there was no additional impact on his arm, his condition would not have gotten worse.”
Son previously suffered from a right arm injury at the final preliminary round of the 2018 World Cup Russia against Qatar held in Doha in June 2017. “I missed running on the ground so much,” said the South Korean after returning to an EPL match two months after his surgery at Kyung Hee University Hospital in Seoul. He had shown up to matches wearing a bandage or a protective guard for a while even after his return and finally had a metal pin in his right arm removed last summer.
Experts believe that the locations of Son’s two right arm injuries are different. Three years ago, it was the bone connecting the right elbow and the wrist – to be more precise, it was closer to the elbow. “It’s hard for the same location of the bone to be broken twice as a certain substance is released from the bone, which makes it thicker during the recovery process,” said Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Professor Seo Kyung-mook at Chung-Ang University Hospital. “The recent fracture seems to be in the bone closer to the wrist.”
Son’s injury is bad news for both Hotspurs and the South Korean national football team with the upcoming second Asian preliminary round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar. In addition, a slow recovery may cause delays in his admission to the basic military drill center scheduled this summer as an exceptional case on military service. The Evening Standard and other British media reported on Wednesday that Son would return to South Korea for surgery on his right arm. In this case, he is likely to get surgery from the same hospital he went to three years ago.
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