Kyoto Purple Sanga's new signing from South Korea, Ko Jong Su, has been ruled out of Saturday's Xerox Super Cup against Jubilo Iwata, and will miss the start of the new league season, too.
According to the club's German manager, Gert Engels, Ko is not in good shape and struggling to keep up with his new teammates at the Kagoshima training camp.
The 24-year-old playmaker, whose career has been affected by a serious knee injury, was signed to replace 2002 World Cup hero Park Ji Sung, who has joined Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
But Kyoto's fans will have to wait a few weeks longer before the former Suwon Blue Wings star will be ready to challenge for a place in the first team.
"He still has to build up his physical condition, and we kope the knee is going to be okay," said Engels, whose team won the Emperor's Cup last season to qualify for the Super Cup against the reigning league champions at the National Stadium in Tokyo.
"I don't think he trained for a couple of months before joining us, so he's a little bit overweight.
"But he is not old, and I hope he will recover and gain strength and power."
Ko was Korea's equivalent of Shunsuke Nakamura, with a brilliant left foot, deadly at corners and free kicks, and a pin-up for the female fans.
At the age of 19 he appeared in all three of Korea's games at the 1998 World Cup in France, twice as a substitute, but he was not chosen for last year's squad by Dutch coach Guus Hiddink due to the knee injury.
Engels is well aware of Ko's qualities.
"He is a good player, that's for sure," he said.
"He has a good touch with his left foot, a good shot and has good ideas.
"He is a classic game-maker, but our team requires more movement and running. He is working hard, and is aware that we do not like players who play only offense."
Kyoto's opening J1 game is a Kansai derby at home to Gamba Osaka on March 23, and the league then takes a break due to the national team's two-match tour to the United States. Engels hopes Ko will be ready for when the league resumes in early April.
Engels insisted that reports that Ko would be paid $800,000 for the year were way off the mark, and the figure is much lower.
But still, it looks like a heavy gamble by Kyoto to pay so much to a player whose long-term future is far from secure.