• Kyodo

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Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura will need up to two weeks to fully recover from a knee injury, but is optimistic on his chances of playing in Japan’s upcoming World Cup qualifier away to Qatar, it was learned Saturday.

The Celtic star on Friday underwent an MRI scan on the left knee injury sustained in training the previous day and missed Saturday’s 2-0 win over Motherwell in the Scottish Premier League. He was told the injury would require between 10 and 14 days to heal.

However, it appears Nakamura is able to play with the knee strapped up and sources close the playmaker said he was optimistic about playing in Doha for Japan’s crunch Group A match on Nov. 19.

The news will come as a relief to Japan coach Takeshi Okada, who has an injury crisis on his hands after key defender Yuji Nakazawa joined Nakamura and first-choice goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki on the casualty list.

Nakazawa picked up a groin injury during Yokohama F Marinos’ 3-1 defeat by Kyoto Sanga in J. League action Saturday. He will decide whether to take part in Japan’s training camp after undergoing tests Monday.

The news followed the announcement by J. League side Nagoya Grampus on Friday that Japan goalkeeper Narazaki had suffered a damaged ligament and a dislocated tendon in his left ankle during a recent training session.

Narazaki, who is likely to be sidelined for two to three weeks, pulled out of the squad for the Qatar game.

Okada came under fire after his side drew 1-1 with Uzbekistan in a home qualifier last month, which followed the 3-2 win at Bahrain in September.

Japan have four points from two matches, two adrift of Group 1 leaders Australia, while Qatar are third in the five-team group on four points from three games. The top two teams from each of two final-round groups will automatically qualify for the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

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