DOHA – Gamba Osaka midfielder Yasuhito Endo sat out training Friday as injury-hit Japan held its first session after arriving in Doha for a mini camp ahead of next Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier away to Oman.
Endo, who made a record 123rd appearance for Japan in a recent friendly against Brazil, had to have nine stitches in his chin after clashing with an opponent in Gamba’s 2-2 draw away to Kashiwa Reysol in the J. League on Wednesday.
He was given the green light to travel with the Japan squad but stayed at the team hotel to work out alone as coach Alberto Zaccheroni gave his remaining nine J. League players a light workout in the Qatari capital.
The latest injury scare for Zaccheroni comes after Schalke defender Atsuto Uchida pulled out of the squad after he tore a thigh muscle in Tuesday’s 2-2 Champions League comeback draw against Arsenal.
“It would have been nice to have him (Endo) here training with us but he was feeling a bit tired. I’m sure he will be fine,” said midfielder Kengo Nakamura.
The Japan Football Association earlier Friday said Stuttgart defender Gotoku Sakai has been added to Japan’s squad as cover for Uchida. Sakai will join up with the squad on Monday. All 23 players in the team are not expected to be able to train together until Tuesday.
Japan is already without Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa, who is not expected to return to action for up to a month after suffering a left knee injury in the first half of the Red Devils’ 3-2 win over Braga in the Champions League on Oct. 23.
The Asian champions head to Oman on Monday night.
Japan, a 3-0 winner over Paul Le Guen’s side in Saitama in June in its opening game of the final round for Brazil 2014, is currently five points clear of Australia and Oman with four rounds played, and will be on the brink of qualification with a win in Muscat.
“When we played Oman (in Saitama) we did really well but they will be at full pelt at home and are opponents that we need to be wary of,” said defender Yuzo Kurihara.
“You never know what can happen when you play away in the Middle East and we won’t get anywhere unless we step up a gear,” added the Yokohama F. Marinos man, who scored Japan’s only away goal so far in the final-round qualifiers in a 1-1 draw with Australia.