SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea striker Lee Dong-guk, whose career has been blighted by a succession of injuries, has been included in coach Huh Jung-moo's final 23-man squad for the World Cup in South Africa.
The 31-year-old missed the 2006 finals in Germany with a knee injury after he was overlooked by Guus Hiddink in 2002, and while he is currently sidelined with a thigh problem, coach Huh said a lack of attacking options made it impossible to leave Lee out.
Huh cut defender Shin Hyung-min, midfielder Koo Ja-cheol and forward Lee Keun-ho from the squad late on Monday, a day after South Korea slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Belarus in a friendly.
"The fact that I don't have a lot of options in terms of strikers is one of the reasons I chose (Lee Dong-guk)," Huh told reporters, adding that the forward nicknamed the 'Lion King' should be ready to return to action in about a week.
Huh said that Lee Keun-ho had been given every chance to prove he was worth a place in the squad but failed to make an impact, while Shin had had a poor game on Sunday.
"Compared to other strikers, Lee Keun-ho hasn't been able to snap out of a slump," he added. "I had high hopes for Shin Hyung-min but he just wasn't very good against Belarus."
Defender Kang Min-soo was also drafted into the squad after Kwak Tae-hwi was ruled out with a knee injury he picked up against Belarus.
South Korea open their Group B campaign against Greece on June 12 in Port Elizabeth. They play Argentina on June 17 and finish the group stage against Nigeria five days later.
Goalkeepers: Lee Woon-jae, Kim Young-kwang, Jung Sung-ryong.
Defenders: Lee Young-pyo, Cha Du-ri, Cho Yong-hyung, Oh Beom-seok, Lee Jung-soo, Kim Hyung-il, Kang Min-soo, Kim Dong-jin.
Midfielders: Lee Chung-yong, Park Ji-sung, Kim Jung-woo, Kim Jae-sung, Kim Bo-kyung, Kim Nam-il, Ki Sung-yong.
Forwards: Lee Dong-guk, Lee Seung-ryul, Park Chu-young, Ahn Jung-whan, Yeom Ki-hun.
(Reporting by Jack Kim, Writing by Peter Rutherford in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)