Korea turns to in-form Son Heung-min for European tests

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is expecting Son Heung-min to lead the line in 2018 soccer World Cup warm-ups against Northern Ireland in Belfast on March 24 and Poland in Chorzow four days later.

Son has been in fine form for English Premier League giant Tottenham Hotspur with his two goals in a 4-1 win against Bournemouth on Sunday taking his tally in the last four games to seven. On Monday, he was named in Korea's 23-man squad as preparations for the 2018 World Cup intensify.

With goals hard to come by at the 2014 World Cup, when Korea picked up just one point, Son's current performances are good news for coach Shin Tae-yong as he readies for the June tournament and group games against Germany, Mexico and Sweden.

"I hope Son can perform in the World Cup like he currently does for his club," Shin told reporters at a Seoul press conference. "But I'm concerned that Son's red-hot form could cool down around the World Cup period."

"No player can maintain his best form all season long," Shin, appointed last summer, said. "I'm really worried that Son's form might go down from May, with his concentration waning and him becoming physically fatigued."

In total, coach Shin called up five European-based players in the squad, which he said was 80 percent complete ahead of the World Cup.

In midfield, captain Ki Sung-yueng, who has also been playing well recently for Swansea City in the English Premier League, has been summoned, as have Kwon Chang-hoon of Dijon in France and Koo Ja-cheol of Germany's FC Augsburg.

Striker Hwan Hee-chan of Red Bull Salzburg has also been selected.

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