Park Ji-Sung has admitted he is frustrated to be leaving Manchester United when they are top of the Premier League but expects them to still be there when he returns from Asia Cup duty with South Korea.
"Playing for the national team is an honour, but I am also very happy to play for United, so missing several games is disappointing," said in-form midfielder Park, who has scored six goals this season.
"But United have a big enough squad to be very strong and they will do well without me. I will keep an eye on United's schedule and results when I am away - I will focus on the team.
"And I totally believe we will still be top when I come back. I have no doubts we will be in the same position as we are at the moment," he added.
Park, who has had to balance his commitments with European club sides and at international level for eight years, is thinking of retiring from South Korea duty after the Asia Cup in Qatar.
"For now I can't say anything. Maybe after the Asia Cup I will," he said.
But first Park still has club work to perform ahead of United's match against a Sunderland side who held United to a draw at the Stadium of Light and won away at Premier League champions Chelsea last month inh one of the shock results of this season.
"Sunderland have shown what they can do against the big teams," said Park.
"Their victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was a great result. They probably think they can do the same at Old Trafford.
"We need to be aware of that and concentrate because this will not be easy."
Park said the congested Christmas and New Year period would have a key bearing on the outcome of the title race.
"Previous seasons have suggested this is quite an important period because there are so many matches in such a short space of time," he said.
"There is a long time to go but four games in nine days is quite a lot. If you are not in form, you can lose a lot of points very quickly.
"In order to win the league, it is very valuable to pick up as many points as possible during this period."© ANP/AFP