Australian defender Ryan McGowan backed for success in China

The Socceroos prospect will be a key member of his new club in China, according to a player who made a similar move in 2012 Indonesia   By PADDY HIGGS

Ryan McGowan will be a success at new club Shandong Luneng, according to another player who made the move from the Scotland to the Chinese Super League.

Australia international defender McGowan, 22, has sealed a two-year deal to the CSL from Scottish Premier League club Hearts for a reported £400,000, with the Edinburgh club in dire need of funds.

With interest from Rangers last transfer window and with the player himself reportedly reluctant to leave long-time club Hearts, the move had been met with a mixed response.

But striker Akpo Sodje, who moved from Hearts' Edinburgh rivals Hibernian to CSL club Tianjin Teda in 2012, believes it could be a good career choice for McGowan.

Sodje spent just five months at Tianjin, but - talking to The Scotsman - he described it as a "very good experience" and said McGowan should expect to play in front of crowds of over 20,000 spectators most weeks.

He also backed the Adelaide-born player to be a success in the CSL.

"Luneng are a good side and a big club although they're probably not one of the biggest in China," Sodje, now with Scunthorpe United in England's League One, told the Scottish newspaper.

"I believe Ryan will be one of the top players in his team. There are lots of young Chinese players in the league, so, as one of the foreigners, Ryan will have a big role to play over there because his team will be expecting a lot of him.

"I wish him all the best. As long as he is enjoying his football it will be a good experience for him.

"I'd recommend a move to China for anybody who wants the experience of a different culture and to do well financially. It's far away from home and you do miss your family and friends but it’s something I definitely enjoyed and I'm sure Ryan will be happy he made the decision to go over there. I know he will do well in China."

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