De Zerbi surprised at Mitoma's Asian Cup call-up

4 months ago 128
Kaoru Mitoma is helped off the pitch after he was injured against Crystal PalaceMitoma was ruled out for up to six weeks after suffering an ankle injury on 21 December

Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi says he is "surprised" by injured winger Kaoru Mitoma's call-up by Japan for the Asian Cup.

De Zerbi confirmed that Mitoma was expected to be out for up to six weeks, but the 26-year-old was included in Japan's final squad on Monday.

The Asian Cup takes place in Qatar between 12 January and 10 February.

"I'm really surprised because my medical staff told me Mitoma needs four, six weeks for his injury," said De Zerbi, speaking before Tuesday's game against West Ham.

"For me, it's difficult to think he can play in the Asian Cup.

"But I am a fan of Mitoma, of all my players, so if they can play for their national team I am very happy and very proud."

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Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu said he was unsure whether Mitoma would be fit to start Japan's first game against Vietnam on 14 January.

"I don't know if [Mitoma] will be ready for the first match, but he is recovering well and I expect him to be available at an early stage," said Moriyasu.

Brighton are also set to be without Mitoma's fellow forward Simon Adingra, who has been selected for Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) between 13 January and 11 February, though his involvement is also in doubt because of a hamstring injury.

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