Experienced Japanese fullback Atsuto Uchida has been ruled out of next month’s Asian Cup title defense in Australia after failing to recover from a knee injury.
The Schalke defender was replaced by Kashima Antlers’ Naomichi Ueda in the 23-man squad, the Japanese Football Association said on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Uchida has played 72 times for the Blue Samurai, including matches at the World Cup in Brazil earlier this year and the Asian Cup triumph in Qatar in 2011.
The holders have been drawn in Group D of the 16-team tournament alongside Jordan, Palestine and 2007 winners Iraq.
They open their campaign on Jan. 12 in Newcastle against outsiders Palestine.