Berlin: Werder Bremen are refusing to let striker Yuya Osako play for Japan at the Copa America in Brazil this June with the striker still sidelined by a back injury suffered on Asian Cup duty.
The 28-year-old has not played since returning injured after Japan's 3-1 defeat to Qatar in the Asian Cup final at the start of the month in Abu Dhabi.
It is unclear whether Osako, who scored four goals at the Asian Cup, will be able to play for Bremen again this season with his club currently mid-table in the Bundesliga and through to the quarter-finals of the German Cup.
Osako was named Japan's player of the year on Wednesday, but Bremen have said he will not be going to the Copa America, which Japan have been specially invited to attend in Brazil from 14 June until 7 July, along with 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.
"We have already informed the Japanese association," said Bremen's team manager Frank Baumann.
"Of course, Yuya wants to help his national team, but the association and Werder Bremen should be careful not to burn out one of the most important Japanese internationals," he added.
Bremen are annoyed that Osako played in the Asian Cup semi-final, where he scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Iran in a man-of-the-match performance, and the final despite carrying injury. "Of course we aren't happy with the current situation," continued Baumann.
Bremen are able to veto Osako's participation in the Copa America because Japan is not a member of CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation which organises the tournament.
Under FIFA statutes, Bremen must only release Osako to play for the Japanese side in the finals of their own confederation's tournament — which happened at the Asian Cup.
Bremen want to give Osako a proper rest at the end of the season because he only received a short break after helping Japan reach the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia last year.
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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2019 23:00:12 IST