Bolton Wanderers fans have become increasingly accustomed to the possibility that South Korea starlet Chung-Yong Lee won't be at the Macron Stadium come February, let alone next season. But the injury sustained in action at the Asian Cup on Saturday has thrown fresh doubts on the issue, with questions over when Chungy will go and the financial ramifications for the club.
Chungy's form since the arrival of Neil Lennon at the Macron Stadium in October has been superb, with the winger looking like the player that Wanderers fans loved when he first signed rather than the player that looked devoid of confidence and interest under Dougie Freedman. That form, and Lennon's consequential public praise of the player, has led to interest from a host of Premier League clubs, including Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Hull City.
Prior to the Asian Cup it was becoming increasingly likely that Wanderers would cash in on that interest, with Chungy's contract expiring in July and a potential £1.5 million deal in the offing. But the hairline fracture to his leg suffered in South Korea's Asian cup opener against Oman has cast doubt on any move.
However, the fact that Chungy could only be out for three weeks means the time he misses through injury may be exactly the period Wanderers were expecting him to be away on international commitments - the final of the Asian Cup is on 31st January, exactly three weeks on from when he picked up the injury. Which means his potential suitors are unlikely to be put off. Moreover, they may even be further encouraged that he will be back in England for treatment rather than playing football in Australia, making him more available for transfer negotiations.
Another concern raised by this whole debacle is whether there's any point in international tournaments being held during the European football seaosn. This year both the Asian Cup and the African Cup of Nations are taking place through January, meaning many clubs across the continent are without some of their best players for a full month of the season. It seems a total nonsense, especially if clubs then see their players return injured through no fault of their all.
But the bigger issue for Wanderers is if the injury affects any potential transfer, and Chungy instead leaves on a free transfer in the summer. The South Korean is on a decent wage and that, combined with the useful transfer fee he could command, could be vital to Neil Lennon adding desperately needed reinforcements before the transfer window slams shut.
Of course, this could prove to be a blessing in disguise for Wanderers. The best scenario for us is one where the injury affects any transfer possibilities, Chungy returns to Bolton and leads us on an amazing rise through the Championship to win promotion, and he signs a new contract in the Premier League next season. However unlikely that is.
Time will tell what becomes of Chungy in the next few weeks, but most Wanderers fans will be hoping the South Korean commits himself to the club and can be joined by several new signings before the transfer deadline.