Coyle reveals Lee hopes
Boss hopes to keep Asia Cup-bound Lee after Baggies clash
Last Updated: December 18, 2010 8:53pm
Lee: Heading to Asia Cup
Bolton manager Owen Coyle hopes to keep hold of key midfielder Lee Chung-yong for as long as possible ahead of the Asia Cup.
The tournament runs from 7th-29th January in Qatar, with South Korea taking on Bahrain in their opening group game on 10th January.
National coach Cho Kwang-rae has asked for his Europe-based squad to assemble at least a week before that clash, with Coyle fearing he could lose Lee after the Boxing Day game with West Brom.
But he hopes to persuade the South Korean Football Association to allow him to keep hold of the midfielder for the subsequent game against Chelsea on 29th December and the New Year's Day trip to Liverpool.
The Bolton boss would also love to have Lee for the home clash with Wigan on 5th January, but knows this is wishful thinking and insists whatever decision is reached, he will abide by it.
Coyle told the Bolton News: "Because it is a Fifa-registered tournament we will have to abide by the rules. So if he has to go back after West Brom, so be it.
"I would love for him to stay on for the games against Liverpool and Chelsea, and even stretch it to Wigan.
"But that's not going to happen. Whatever comes back we will just have to deal with it."
Despite the impending loss of Lee, the Bolton boss refused to hit out at the timing of the tournament and, instead, he believes the winger's absence gives others the chance to step up.
Coyle added: "The tournament does not fit into our calendar year. But that has happened before with the African Cup of Nations.
"I think if you have players who are involved in these tournaments, it's something you are aware of.
"If they are playing well - which you hope they are - then ultimately they will be called up.
"It's similar to having a player suspended for three or four games.
"The difficult thing with this one, being after Boxing Day, is there are four games in a 10-day spell, never mind the fact that South Korea are likely to do well in the tournament.
"So, there will be a few more weeks after that. But we have players with quality who can come in and replace Chungy."