Merrick will stand by errant striker Chan
Hong Kong coach Ernie Merrick will keep faith with Chan Siu-ki despite the negative headlines the striker has been attracting recently.
The South China player joined up with the squad when they resumed training at Shek Kip Mei Sports Ground yesterday in preparation for next week's international friendly against Singapore.
'I don't concern myself with those issues and those issues are left for his club to deal with,' said Merrick, who led Hong Kong to a 5-1 victory over Taiwan in his debut in February.
'As the coach of the Hong Kong team, I am working on the professional players and as long as he is part of the team and we think he is good and fit and proper to do the job, he is my first-choice striker.'
The 26-year-old, hailed as the best local Chinese striker in recent years, appeared in a newspaper last week with details about his private life.
It also showed photos of him smoking on a street, angering club convenor Steven Lo Kit-sing, who warned and fined Chan for similar behaviour in February. Chan was withdrawn from the annual Top Footballers Award by his club and Lo said after South China's last match on Saturday that he was considering sacking Chan or imposing a severe punishment on him.
But Merrick has no such issues and insisted whatever problems Chan has off the pitch, on the field he's an asset to Hong Kong.
Chan admitted: 'My future is up to the club to decide and I am feeling a bit nervous at the moment.
'But if the [Hong Kong] coach picks me, I will do my best on the pitch to prove myself and let the results do the talking.'
The full team will gather for training next week, after Saturday's Cup final between Kitchee and Pegasus.