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Chinese Football Association (CFA)

With nothing to play for China’s Zhang Yuning still can’t get a game at Werder Bremen

Striker fails to get off the bench for loan club and might only have bizarre interview to show for a season in the German Bundesliga

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 12:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 1:58pm

Chinese football fans’ hopes that national team striker Zhang Yuning would get a first appearance of the season for German Bundesliga side Werder Bremer were dashed.

The West Bromwich Albion loanee was an unused substitute in the German league game against Borussia Dortmund.

The 21-year-old’s time at the Weserstadion has not been particularly productive so far and the Dortmund game was the first time he even made the bench this season. Manager Florian Kohfeldt confirmed that Zhang would be in the matchday squad ahead of the game, but only made two of his three substitutions.

Werder are 12th in the table and the belief was that with the club safe from relegation, Zhang would have been afforded some playing time on Monday night.

A number of injury problems and call-ups to the national team have not helped his cause but it is fair to say that his development has stalled in Bremen after regular playing time in the Dutch Eredivisie last season.

He moved from Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem to Chinese-owned English Premier League side West Brom before being immediately loaned out to the Germans on a two-year loan, on account of him not being eligible for a work permit in England.

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The forward has played nine times for the China team, scoring twice, and while he scored for Werder twice in pre-season friendlies but has not played a competitive game for them.

His time in Germany so far is more famous for a bizarre interview with Deutsche Welle presenter Kres Harrington. The channel had to defend the interview against allegations of racism.

Werder have two games left for Zhang to feature, with Bayer Leverkusen coming up at the weekend before travelling to Mainz on the last day of the season.

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Meanwhile, if Zhang returns to his parent club next year – assuming he can get a work permit now he features for China more regularly – there is a strong chance that he will be playing Championship football next season as the Baggies stare relegation in the face.