Fan Xiaodong has been a constant in the Changchun Yatai starting eleven for the past three seasons, so his absence so far this season has been noticed.
The 32-year-old veteran had somewhat of a career revival after arriving in the North-East back in January 2016.
Since joining from Hangzhou Greentown, Fan has played 87 games for Changchun and scored eight goals – primarily lining up in the left back position, though occasionally utilised in the middle of the park.
A regular in the team’s starting eleven, Fan earned international recognition for his performances – with all eight of his caps with the Chinese National Team coming since 2017.
With Changchun Yatai suffering relegation in 2018, Fan looked set to be the leader the team needed on the field – providing real quality in the second tier that could help the team make a push for promotion immediately.
Unfortunately, that has not yet been able to pass with Fan still being sidelined with an unspecified injury – causing him to miss the opening season registration period.
Per Sports Sina, Fan has been working on his recovery over in Germany and there are hopes from within the club that the hard-working defender could return when the mid-season transfer window re-opens the registration period.
Fan’s number 17 shirt has also been kept open in anticipation of his possible mid-season return, with his influence and tireless work ethic something the team is desperate to have for the rest of the 2019 season.
Without Fan in the line-up, Changchun have slumped to eighth in the league with two wins, two draws and two losses in their opening six league games.
The makeup of China League One this season actually sees the one-time CSL champions sitting just three points behind top of the league – currently occupied by Qingdao Huanghai.
Changchun’s team is largely different from their last starting eleven in the CSL, with the likes of Tan Long and Yu Rui the main holdovers.
If Fan Xiaodong is able to return to the team at the mid-way point, he would add so much in the way of veteran leadership and experience that would be sure to boost the morale of both the team and the fanbase.
He is still a popular player in Changchun and having him back could add serious quality to a line-up that needs to make some moves in the summer if they have any hopes of getting their promotion push back on track.