By Yong-Hun Lee & Ben Somerford
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill says South Korean striker Ji Dong-Won is still in the running for a first-team place despite being away for the next weeks at the London Olympics.
The 21-year-old Jeju-born striker is part of Korea's Olympic squad for the London games which begins on Thursday July 26.
Ji's inclusion in the Olympic squad means he misses much of Sunderland's pre-season campaign, including the club's Peace Cup in South Korea.
O'Neill told Goal.com the former Chunnam Dragons man will get his opportunities to push for a regular run when he returns to the Black Cats after the Olympics.
"I'll give him chances after he comes back from the Olympics, we'll have more games after Peace Cup," O'Neill said.
The Sunderland manager also praised the young Korean's technical ability but admitted he needs to improve physically to compete in the tough Premier League.
"He's technically fantastic but physically needs to be better for Premier League," O'Neill said.
The Northern Irishman also said the decision to let Ji compete at the Olympics was "difficult" and admitted it would have been for him to be part of the squad for the Peace Cup.
"It was difficult but I allowed it because it's great honour for him," O'Neill said. "I think it would have been good for him to participate in the Peace Cup, he could have got cheers in front of his home fans."
Sunderland take on K-League club Seongnam Ilhwa on Thursday in the Peace Cup, while Hamburg and Groningen will also compete in the tournament.
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