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scouting

Son Heung-min says he's not ready to head the ball, but does he need to?

In a press conference in Doha ahead of the 2022 World Cup, Son Heung-min, having just had facial surgery to repair a fracture around his left eye, said that he isn't ready to head the ball. 
(Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

But, being a left winger, will he need to?

Son joined up with the rest of the South Korea squad on Wednesday and in a press conference the following day had to field a lot of questions about his protective mask, including how many he has brought with him, what it's made from, and what it feels like when it's on. 

He admitted that the carbon fibre mask is more comfortable than expected but also said that the weather in Qatar compared to that of the UK means that, owing to the fact that he's sweating more, it feels different and some self-adjustments have been needed during training.

The question also came up about whether he'd be able to head the ball, to which he said that he can't, nor has he tried, but running is not a problem:

"I can’t head the ball yet and I haven't tried yet. It’s only been 10 days since the surgery and that’s not a long time. I don’t have any problem with running. I trained with the club just two days before arriving here and I was able to complete my sprint training without any problems."  

Son fields questions in a press conference with surgery scar visible (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty) Images)

But, how often is Son actually expected to head the ball? According to the Premier League's own statistics, Son has scored just four headed goals in 245 league appearances for Tottenham. With 96 goals scored in the Premier League, that's just 4.2% of his total.

During his Premier League career, Son has made 24 headed clearances which works out at just under one per match. In his last 60 matches for Korea, he has gone up for 51 aerial duels which works at 0.85 per match and has only won 33% of them. 


FNR

This is despite Korea sitting fourth in Asia qualifying for crosses from the right-hand side at 156. Interestingly, Korea are top for crosses from Son's side of the pitch.

It is, instead, Hwang Ui-jo who, if selected, will be expected to get on the end of crosses. Hwang ranked fifth in Asian qualifying for headed shots with 10. Son wasn't even in the top 30.

But whether Son will start for Korea against Uruguay in the Taeguk Warriors' first match of the World Cup remains to be seen.

South Korea take on Uruguay on November 24th at Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan with a local time of 4 PM, or 10 PM Korea time.

Press conference quotes via  Korea Joongang Daily

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