ENGLAND - Sir Alex has confirmed Ji-sung Park could face FC Seoul on Friday night, although the Korean international’s involvement may only be minimal as the midfielder has only recently joined up with the rest of the squad.
United fans got their first glimpse of the midfielder on Thursday morning as the Reds enjoyed a two-hour training session at the World Cup Stadium. And although Park appeared to be running freely, Sir Alex said his match fitness is still somewhat off the pace.
"A decision will be taken on Friday," the boss said. "I feel he may be able to play some minutes but he has not been with us for the last few weeks, so he hasn't done the same preparation as the rest of the players.
"I’m sure he’ll get a few minutes and that will be a big lift to fans here in Korea. Two years ago he was injured and didn’t play but he still got man of the match!"
At a pre-match press conference at the team hotel, Sir Alex took time to reflect on the qualities that first attracted him to the 28-year-old, who, since signing for the Reds in 2004, has gone on to make 123 appearances for United
"I went to see him play for PSV Eindhoven in two quarter-finals and we identified a player with great understanding of space.
"When his team had the ball his movement was always clever and he had decisive penetration in attacking areas.
"We felt at the time that we needed a player who could penetrate in the last third and that’s why we brought him to Manchester United.
"In his time with us he has developed his technical and tactical abilities and done very well. He has become a very important player for us and has had a fantastic career with us."
Reds chief executive David Gill also confirmed that the club intend to extend Park’s contract, which runs out at the end of the forthcoming 2009/10 campaign.
"Discussions will take place," Gill said. "We’re looking to extend the contract. Sir Alex and the coaches are very happy with him and Ji enjoys his time with us immensely. When it’s done it will be announced."
[This article is also available at Manchester United Official Website.]