Park's presence to boost QPR survival hopes

MICHAEL BOTSFORD Associated Press Published:

LONDON (AP) -- Queens Park Rangers captain Park Ji-sung could make his long-awaited return this weekend when his winless team hosts Aston Villa in the Premier League.

The former South Korea captain and Manchester United winger injured his left knee at Arsenal on Oct. 27 and returned to training last week. He missed QPR's game against his former club on Saturday, but came off the bench in the 65th minute against Sunderland on Tuesday.

Park was signed by Manchester United from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven in 2005. He won four Premier League titles and the Champions League at United, making him Asia's most successful player in Europe. Park signed for QPR in the offseason.

"He's one of the best professionals we've had here," United manager Alex Ferguson said of Park last week. "He was truly fantastic, and particularly in big games."

QPR is last in the Premier League and recently fired manager Mark Hughes and replaced him with Harry Redknapp, who finished in fourth place with Tottenham last season.

While Park is one of the most well-known Asian players in the Premier League, perhaps the most talented is Shinji Kagawa. The Japan midfielder, who was signed by Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund in the offseason, was due to be back last week following a left knee injury picked up against Braga in October. His recovery time has been pushed back by United, and he is not due to play for another 2-3 weeks.

Newcastle has not won a Premier League game in November, and has lost its last four matches. Wigan, which will have Oman goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi between the posts, will be hoping that form continues Monday.

Al-Habsi has made two mistakes in his last two games, and will surely be hoping not to make another with Senegal strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse lurking.

Japan winger Ryo Miyaichi, on loan to Wigan from Arsenal, has returned from injury and is being used by manager Roberto Martinez as a substitute. He has yet to be on the winning side for Wigan.

South Korea midfielder Ki Seung-yung and his Swansea team travel to London to play Arsenal. Swansea has impressed under manager Michael Laudrup, and has lost only one match in October and November, against defending champion Manchester City.

Fulham midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was rested for his team's 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Wednesday, but the Iran international could make a return in Saturday's match against Tottenham. Fulham has drawn five of its last eight games.

Japan defender Maya Yoshida faces Premier League top scorer Luis Suarez on Saturday as his Southampton team travels to Anfield to play Liverpool. Southampton has eight points from its last four games, but only one away win this season.

Japan striker Tadanari Lee, who plays for Southampton, and South Korea forward Ji Dong-won, who plays for Sunderland, continue to be overlooked by their clubs. Neither has played yet this season.