Sport Soccer

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Park aims to bow out on a high

Simon Stone

Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung is keen to leave Old Trafford on a high by beating Sunderland before heading off on international duty.

Park will appear in the encounter today with the Black Cats before bowing out to undertake Asian Cup duties for South Korea in Qatar, which will see him miss seven games.

"Playing for the national team is an honour but I am going to miss several games, so it is quite disappointing," he said. "But Manchester United have a big enough squad to be very strong and they will do well without me. Hopefully I will leave with a decent performance and three points [against Sunderland]. I have to put everything into the game."

It is a fairly inconvenient moment for the 29-year-old, who is enjoying his best season for the Red Devils since his arrival from PSV Eindhoven in 2005 and has already registered his highest goals tally of six. But the energetic midfielder does not think his absence will hamper United too badly.

The Black Cats' hammering of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last month was greeted with stunned amazement, whilst Alex Ferguson regards United's draw on Wearside in October as the toughest examination his unbeaten side have had on their travels all year.

"Sunderland have shown what they can do against the big teams," said Park. "Their victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was a great result. They probably think they can do the same at Old Trafford. We need to be aware of that and concentrate because this won't be easy."

With Arsenal and Chelsea going head-to-head at the Emirates tomorrow night, three points would put United in a very handy position at the start of a period which Park accepts will play a major part in shaping United's entire campaign.

"Previous seasons have suggested this is quite an important period because there are so many matches in such a short space of time," he said. "There is a long time to go but four games in nine days is quite a lot. If you are not in form, you can lose a lot of points very quickly. In order to win the league, it is very valuable to pick up as many points as possible during this period."

When he returns from the Asian Cup, the final of which will be played in Doha on January 29, he expects the Red Devils still to be peering down at the chasing pack.

"I totally believe we will still be number one when I come back," said Park. "I have no doubts we will be in the same position as we are at the moment."

After balancing commitments for clubs in Europe and internationally back home for almost eight years, Park is giving serious thought to announcing his international retirement. No official decision has been made yet. However, all the indications are Park will stand down once his work in Qatar is done.

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