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By ESPN Staff

Dong given all-clear to play for Man Utd

LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Manchester United's China striker Dong Fangzhuo has been given a British work permit and is clear to make his competitive debut for the Premier League leaders, the club said on Wednesday. United signed the 21-year-old from Dalian Shide in January 2004 but sent him out on loan to Belgian club Royal Antwerp, where he scored 35 goals in 61 games.

Handed shirt number 21, Dong is now eligible to turn out in league and cup games for United and has signed a new contract until 2010. He has only played previously for them in pre-season friendlies, scoring the winner against Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa last July.

'We're all excited he has eventually arrived and can start playing,' United manager Alex Ferguson said. 'He sacrificed two-and-a-half years at Royal Antwerp, which showed great patience and determination.

'He is quick and athletic and he can only improve by training with the first team squad here.'