South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-yueng has revealed that his recent retirement from international football was down to wanting to focus on giving his all for his club side Newcastle United.
The 30-year-old has yet to play for the Magpies in 2019 after spending five weeks away with his national side at the Asia Cup before returning to Tyneside with an achilles injury.
His last competitive appearance in a black and white shirt was in Newcastle's 0-0 draw at St. James' Park against Fulham in December and during his absence the likes of Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff have accommodated his position in the heart of midfield.
Speaking to the Newcastle Chronicle, Ki opened up about why he announced his retirement so soon after Korea were eliminated from the Asia Cup at the quarter-final stage, admitting: "It's time for me to concentrate on Newcastle."
"I have played a lot of games for Korea and travelled back and forth for 10 years or so."
"That is difficult, such as this time. You are playing well in the team and have to leave.
"By the time you come back, someone else has your place. That has happened a lot of times in my career because of the national team.
"It's normal, the Premier League is so competitive, but that's life."
"But playing for my country is also an honour. I had to decide what my focus would be on now. I have done a lot for the national team."
Referring to the recent emergence of Magpies youth academy graduate Longstaff, Ki admitted that he faces a fight to regain his position in the side, adding: "I have seen Longstaff in training, I knew he had quality, We have very good competition now."
"For me, I have to wait for my chance again. First of all, I need to be as fit as before.
"I need to do extra training.. I had to do this in the first period of the season, wait and work hard."
Although back amongst the squad, Ki is not expected to feature for Newcastle at the weekend when they face Huddersfield Town at St. James' Park as he continues his rehabilitation from injury.
Manager Rafael Benitez will be keen to secure a vital victory against the Premier league's bottom club as he looks to steer his side to survival for the second season in succession.