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Sunderland boss Gus Poyet says the situation surrounding Ji Dong-won "wasn't easy" for the club.
The Black Cats have been fined by the Football Association for playing the South Korean earlier in the season without international clearance. The club said in a statement the issue was a result of a "technical fault".
The 22-year-old is now with German side FC Augsburg and is joining Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
Sunderland have released the following statement:
Steve Bruce believes his former club Sunderland could be "in serious trouble" after it emerged the club were fined for fielding striker Ji Dong-won in four Premier League games for which he was technically ineligible.
Sunderland were fined a six-figure sum after they made the Premier League aware that they did not have international clearance for the Korean player.