Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has been left frustrated after learning he'll be without Ki Sung-yueng for at least three weeks due to his participation in the Asian Cup.
The 29-year-old will join up with the South Korea squad following the Magpies' game against Fulham this weekend, with the final group game set to take place on January 16 - although could be gone until early February.
Despite talks with South Korea's manager, Paulo Bento, over keeping the midfielder for longer, Benitez confirmed an agreement couldn't be reached between the two parties, while Yoshinori Muto will also be unavailable due to his selection for Japan.
As quoted by the Shield Gazette, Benitez said: "Ki will go December 26 and we don’t know when he will come back.
"Muto will go January 3 after Manchester United. “I was trying (to get Ki to stay for longer), but they couldn’t change."
While Ki is set to miss the majority of the festive schedule, his compatriot, Tottenham's Son Heung-min, will travel out after Spurs' game against Manchester United, in time for South Korea's final group game against China, due to an agreement with the previous manager.
Ki has impressed at the heart of Newcastle's midfield in recent weeks, starting each of the last six Premier League games for the club, with Benitez delighted at how well the former Swansea man has done since coming into the side.
He added: "He came from the World Cup and needed some time to recover. Jonjo and (Mohamed) Diame were doing well. He didn’t have the space.
"When he had the space, he was doing well, because he’s a good player. “We were trying our best (to keep him for longer), but we couldn’t change the situation."