Veteran coach awaiting 'green light' from Celtic amid summer plans for Hoops striker

The Hoops star could be set to miss a chunk of key games this season if the club sign off.
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South Korea's caretaker manager Hwang Sun-hong remains hopeful that Celtic will give him the 'green light' to call up striker Yang Hyun-jun for the U23 Asian Cup taking place this month.

Hwang has been manager of the South Korea U23 team since 2021 but was also appointed interim coach of the senior side in February, following the dismissal of Jurgen Klinsmann. The 55-year-old is looking to deploy his strongest squad in this month's U23 Asian Cup, which acts as the AFC qualifiers for the 2024 Olympics men's football tournament.

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The Taegeuk Warriors are looking to qualify for a tenth consecutive Olympic Games, so calling up overseas players is now a priority for Hwang and his staff. Celtic's Yang has been named in the squad but the Hoops are not under obligation to let the 21-year-old leave for the camp, as the tournament does not fall into the FIFA calendar.

Right now, Hwang — who made 103 appearances for South Korea during his playing days — is waiting on a response from Celtic and three other European clubs. The manager is hoping to bring in all of his overseas options in Yang, Stoke City's Bae Jun-ho, Brentford's Kim Ji-soo, and Kim Min-woo of Fortuna Dusseldorf. Minnesota United midfielder Jeong Sang-bin is also on the list.

"There are many variables about the overseas players, but we will prepare with hope. We will also think about other options a little bit. I think I have to do it. We have selected the best players," Hwang said.

"The overseas players would join up three days before the first game so they could play in the weekend for their clubs. I have been told Bae Jun-ho is waiting for an answer from Stoke City. The other overseas players, I have heard nothing saying they won't be in Qatar.

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"I’m trying to make a decision quickly, but it’s difficult to give a definite answer right now. It would be an incredible achievement to qualify for a tenth time in a row and I need my best players to do that.

"The Olympic qualifying tournament will be a difficult one. We'll have to be prepared for that. If we don't get our European-based players, we will have to come up with a Plan B."

The U23 Asian Cup will run from 15th April until 3rd May, meaning Yang could miss the clash with Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup, and several Premiership games after the split, depending on how far South Korea reach in the tournament. The top three nations will qualify for a place at the Paris Olympics this summer.