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Friday, 31st August 2012
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Kagawa to play on the left for Japan

Manchester United's summer signing Shinji Kagawa has been called up for Japan's World Cup qualifying squad, but will not play in his favoured 'number 10' position.

The attacking midfielder joins a 23-man squad preparing to pit their wits against Iraq as the qualifying campaign for World Cup 2014 gets underway on September 11th.

But despite a scintillating start to his Old Trafford career, it appears as though the promising 23-year-old will continue playing second fiddle to CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda, who looks set to retain his position at the heart of coach Alberto Zaccheroni's midfield plans.

After his high-profile move to the red half of Manchester, calls have grown for Kagawa to be given his preferred central spot.

He has made an impressive start to life in England, putting in an impressive shift in his first game as a Red Devil and arguably outshining marquee summer signing Robin van Persie in the first two games of the season.

Starting ahead of Rooney just behind van Persie, Kagawa found the back of the net on his home debut in last week's 3-2 home win against Fulham, United's first victory of the season.

Despite these impressive displays, it is expected that he will line up on the left when Japan take on Iraq next month, with Zaccheroni telling reporters: "Honda is an important player I always call up.

"I think his best position is behind the front line. This is his position. It is good that his condition is good while others are still not at their best."

So far, the Italian's faith has not been misplaced, with Honda converting four times in Japan's last three qualifiers and enjoying a fine run of form for CSKA, having scored three and assisted two in the first seven games of the Russian Football Championship season.

Written by Mark Smith

Related news stories:
Japan star Shinji Kagawa to sit out London Olympics (15th June 2012)
Shinji Kagawa to join Man Utd in 17m deal (6th June 2012)