SHIZUOKA – Junichi Inamoto is determined to play a part in Japan’s Asian Cup warm ups against Montenegro and Colombia even though he could miss the continental championship for the second time in a row.
Inamoto was drafted into the squad that kicks off the three-team Kirin Cup tournament against Montenegro in Shizuoka on Friday at the last minute after he signed a two-year deal with German League club Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old only joined up with the team on Wednesday after flying in from Germany but insists he is fit and eager to make an impact.
“Of course it is up to the coach but if he wants me to play I would be only too happy to oblige,” said Inamoto, who is set to make his first appearance since last summer’s World Cup in Germany.
“It’s been nearly a year since the World Cup and Japan have a different coach and new players and I felt a new sense of urgency in training. Everything is new for me on the club and country front and I want to make a fresh start.
“I am ready and want to be involved in both matches,” the former Arsenal and Fulham man said.
Inamoto missed Japan’s Asian Cup triumph in China three years ago after breaking his leg in a friendly against England.
He might have to put club ahead of country for the July 7-29 tournament in Southeast Asia after Frankfurt chairman Heribert Bruchhagen hinted that he wanted both Inamoto and striker Naohiro Takahara for preseason.
“I have spoken with Ivica Osim on the phone and talks are not going well. If I lose both of my Japanese players it will be a big problem,” Bruchhagen was quoted as saying by Japanese media.
Celtic playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura, who looks almost certain to miss the Montenegro match because of a bruised right ankle, was glad to have Inamoto back in the fold.
“Ina is the kind of player that will get in there and win balls for you. We don’t have that type of player in the team at the moment,” said Nakamura.
Inamoto had initially been overlooked for the Kirin Cup to allow him time to look for a new club after he decided to leave Turkish giant Galatasaray.
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