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By ESPN Staff

Park left out of South Korea squad

Park Ji-sung is putting club before country in a bid to cement his place at Manchester United.

The South Korean has been promised a new contract by Sir Alex Ferguson after impressing since his move to England from PSV Eindhoven.

However, after beginning pre-season training late following his World Cup commitments, the last thing he needed was a return to Seoul for an August 12 friendly with Paraguay.

With his country's place among the final 32 nations in South Africa next year already secure, coach Huh Jung-moo has opted to let Park remain in England for the build-up to United's opening game against Birmingham on August 15.

"There is a full list of fixtures and Manchester United have made new signings so the start of the season is very important for Park,'' said Huh.

Huh has called up European-based stars such as Wigan Athletic's Cho Won-hee and Park Chu-young of Monaco while there is a recall for former Middlesbrough forward Lee Dong-gook, who is the leading scorer in the K-League this season with Jeonbuk Motors and joins the national team for the first time since the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.

Park has had a busy summer, first helping the national team to achieve a seventh straight appearance at the World Cup in June and then was back in Asia in July as United toured the region.

"The situations for Park Chu-young and Cho Won-hee are different to Park Ji-sung. After their vacations they started training immediately with their teams,'' Huh added.

The match against the South Americans marks the start of the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists' preparation for South Africa.

With Park absent, the captain's armband will have to be worn by someone else but Huh believes that it won't be a problem.

If Park had been required to return home, he would almost certainly have missed the Birmingham encounter and probably the midweek trip to Burnley immediately afterwards given the tiredness that tends to affect players on such long-haul journeys.

Park's team-mates are currently combating the same problem, having completed their pre-season tour with two matches in Munich last week that were tagged onto the end of a four-match Asian tour, which included a win over FC Seoul.

Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been linked with bids for David Villa and David Silva despite declaring his summer spending is over, will get the chance to assess both men at first-hand when Valencia come to Old Trafford for a friendly on Wednesday evening.

The game is the last chance United will have to assess their readiness for the new campaign before Sunday's Community Shield encounter with Chelsea.

It promises to be a pivotal week of training for the Red Devils too as, while Park may be remaining in England, many of Ferguson's players will be heading straight from Wembley to international commitments, with Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick expected to be among those involved in England's friendly with Holland in Amsterdam.

Ben Foster should also be included given his return to fitness, while it will be intriguing to see whether Michael Owen is selected by Fabio Capello following his surprise move to the Red Devils.


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