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By ESPN Staff
Jul 19, 2006

Fergie can play Dong after December

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed Dong Fangzhou will qualify for a European passport in December - freeing him up to start training at Manchester United.

Dong signed for the Red Devils two-and-a-half-years ago but has been limited to outings in pre-season friendlies as the 21-year-old does not qualify for a UK work permit.

However, by spending the intervening time on loan at Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp, Dong is inching closer to getting clearance to play. And Ferguson could not be more delighted.

'Dong qualifies for his European passport in December and that is good news for us,' said Ferguson.

'He has played four times for China already, so clearly he has a lot of potential.

'He has the speed and physicality and his technique is improving all the time.

'He has improved a lot but we expect that and he has to continue it if he wants to be a player.'

Dong could not have done any more to press his claims for a place at United against the Kaizer Chiefs at Newlands last night, replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the break, then netting the winner six minutes from time.

However, the youngster's efforts were overshadowed by Ferguson's confirmation that United had rejected a bid from Real Madrid for wantaway striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Intense speculation coming out of the Spanish capital suggested a deal for the Dutchman required only a medical for completion. But Ferguson immediately dampened down the rumours.