Steve Bruce has leapt to the defence of Ji Dong-won after his conditioning was questioned by his international manager.
The Sunderland striker was substituted at half-time in South Korea's World Cup qualifier against the United Arab Emirates on Friday and was left out of the starting line-up for a meeting with Lebanon four days later.
Korea coach Cho Kwang-rae introduced him after the break in the second game, but criticised the frontman's physical condition and his performance in Dubai.
Black Cats boss Bruce has been quick to back his summer signing from Chunnam Dragons having recently experienced at first hand the after-effects of the gruelling journey to Seoul.
He said on Friday: "It's quite understandable. If you ask a player to go 11,000 miles, I don't think he is going to be in the best of conditions, we realise that.
"He has made that trip now four times in the last few months - I made it once and I was exhausted for a week, so to ask him to play football and run around and train, it's been difficult for the boy.
"He is only 20 years old, so I would have thought that maybe the coach would have understood those sort of situations, but there you have it.
"He's entitled to his opinion - he's the national manager of Korea - but I fully understand.
"That's why I probably won't play Ji tomorrow (against Fulham). I know for a fact travelling back after a game on Tuesday, it's very, very difficult and you are not going to be at your physical best."