'It will be a proud moment for me to play in China' Mainland striker Dong Fangzhuo is in the Manchester United squad to tour Asia and is likely to become the first Chinese player to turn out for the Red Devils when they take on Hong Kong on July 23. The 20-year-old Dong was a GBP500,000 ($7.3 million) purchase by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson in January 2004 from Chinese side Dalian Shide and the youngster has been plying his trade at Belgian feeder club Royal Antwerp in the Belgium league for the past 16 months, in a bid to gain experience. The four-match tour begins with the ING Manchester United Cup against the Hong Kong national side at Hong Kong Stadium, followed by a match in Beijing and two in Japan, providing a shot in the arm for the former teenage prodigy who may yet figure in Ferguson's plans for next season. Dong made his debut for Royal Antwerp in February in the club's 1-0 defeat by Germinal Beerschot and, although he has yet to score a goal for the club, he has raised eyebrows with his consistent play. Mainland and Hong Kong fans will be pleased that Dong has been included in the United squad for the Asian tour and the 1.85-metre striker said he was looking forward to making his United debut on Chinese soil. 'I am very excited to be part of the Asian tour and it will definitely be a thrilling moment for me once I pull on the famous red shirt in my country. It will be a proud moment for me to play in China as a Manchester United player,' said Dong. Although Dong is not guaranteed a place in the starting line-up in the Hong Kong match against the national squad, Ferguson is expected to put Dong on the substitutes' bench, he should eventually take his place among some of the superstars of the English Premiership. Recently, Sir Bobby Charlton expressed encouragement, saying Dong could one day figure in United's line-up and that the club might sign more Asian players in future, provided they prove themselves first. 'I have not seen Dong play but I am sure United will sign an Asian player in due time, providing that they are good enough,' said Charlton last month in Hong Kong. Dong's talents were noticed by Ferguson when the youngster was sent by China's top clubs to England for trials at the end of 2003. At the moment, China have two footballers playing in the English Premiership, namely Sun Jihai, who plays for Manchester City, and midfielder Li Tie, who turns out regularly for Everton. Making the announcement in Beijing yesterday, Peter Draper, Manchester United's director of marketing, said: 'We are delighted that Dong will be part of United's Asia tour this summer. He has been progressing step by step since his arrival at Royal Antwerp. He deserves to be on the tour and we believe he will perform well. A lot of Chinese fans have heard of Dong and know what he is capable of. His inclusion on the team will definitely add to the excitement for Chinese fans. 'Dong will be rubbing shoulders with the some of the best players in the English Premiership such as Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy. What better way to start with United than in China where Dong already has his own strong fan base?' he said. Manchester United have promised to send a full-strength team to Hong Kong as the Red Devils make their third visit here since 1997. The club last played in the SAR in 1999 and club officials have assured fans that they will see such luminaries as skipper Roy Keane, superstar striker Van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Giggs.