Midfielder Okubo slated to have knee surgery


Vissel Kobe’s World Cup midfielder Yoshito Okubo will have surgery on his left knee, dealing a major blow to the relegation-threatened J. League first division club.

A team source told Kyodo News on Friday that the 28-year-old Okubo, who played in all four of Japan’s games at the World Cup this summer, will be operated on Saturday.

There is no timetable for his return, the source said.

Okubo had complained of not feeling well after 15th-place Vissel’s 0-0 draw at home to Shonan Bellmare on Aug. 14, undergoing a series of tests, including one on his knee.

Okubo met with coach Toshiya Miura on Thursday, when it was decided that he would have surgery on the knee.

Okubo has had chronic problems with the knee, and aggravated it during the World Cup where he surprisingly shone for Takeshi Okada’s side as it reached the second round.

Okubo is second on the team with four goals behind Popo (seven) and remains Vissel’s best player. Kobe, which travels to Yamagata on Sunday to play Montedio, is just four points clear of 16th-place Vegalta Sendai.