Inamoto not keen on Japan call
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Fulham midfielder Junichi Inamoto has revealed his reluctance to be included in the Japan squad for the East Asian Championships in December.
Japan national coach Zico is set for a hectic month after star players Inamoto and Naohiro Takahara become the latest players to voice their hesitancy to play in the tournament.
Over the next three weeks, the Brazilian will desperately try to secure releases for his European-based players, although his efforts may prove futile as clubs can refuse to let go of their players given the tournament is not classed as an A-international by Fifa.
Inamoto, who is in currently in good form for Fulham, is likely to skip the tournament, saying the regular long-hour flights to Tokyo could have negative consequences on his fitness.
"When I return from a tough match in Japan, I usually feel tired and have little time to recuperate," said the 24-year-old.
"It's not the most ideal situation for the coach (Chris Coleman). He wants to pick a fit squad."
Serie A's Sampdoria have already sent a formal letter to the Japanese Football Association to bar striker Atsushi Yanagisawa from travelling to Japan, and Germany's Hamburg and Premiership club Fulham are set to follow suit.
"Because the (East Asian Championships) is not an A-international, I'm not sure if I will go," said Takahara.
"There are going to be important matches in December, like the German Cup. If Hamburg receive a letter from the JFA requesting for my release, I think they will reject it."
Japan will play China, Hong Kong and South Korea in the space of seven days beginning on December 4.
If the current trend continues, Zico will be forced to choose an under-strength team for the tournament as Japan's other foreign-based players are likely to follow suit and remain behind at their respective clubs.