Roberto De Zerbi expressed surprise at Kaoru Mitoma’s selection in Japan’s Asia Cup squad, considering the winger’s current injury-induced absence.
The Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi admitted his astonishment at Mitoma’s inclusion, given the player’s sidelined status.
Speaking ahead of Brighton’s clash against West Ham United, De Zerbi said: “Yes, I am very surprised because my medical staff told me Mitoma would need 4-6 weeks about his injuries.
“It’s difficult to think that he can play in the Asia Cup but I am a fan of Mitoma, of all my players, so if they can play for their national team I am proud.”
Speaking just five days ago, before the 4-2 victory against Tottenham Hotspur, De Zerbi offered the following update on Mitoma’s fitness after picking up an ankle injury: “Tomorrow we have more or less 10 injured players, maybe eight but (the other) two players can’t start the game,” De Zerbi said.
“Mitoma is one of them. We lost Kaoru for around six weeks – four, five, six weeks.”
Regardless of Mitoma’s participation in the Asia Cup, Brighton was already gearing up for January fixtures, anticipating the winger’s absence. The Seagulls are scheduled to face West Ham, Stoke City, and Wolverhampton Wanderers during this period.