Butt explores South China option

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Former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt could be set to come out of retirement after accepting an offer to train with Hong Kong side South China.

Butt, who called time on a career that also included stints at Newcastle and Birmingham City in May, will arrive in the territory later this month and will feature in South China's league game against TSW Pegasus before deciding whether to remain with the club until the end of the season.

"I wanted some time out of the game to concentrate on my next step either in or out of football. However I feel fit and when South China FC approached me to join them for a week's training and a game, the prospect excited me," said the 35-year-old former England international.

"I could see from their team and commitment to the game that this was something I wanted to be a part of. I have been to China many times with Manchester United and England and the reception we received was always unbelievable.

"The development and growth of Asian football since 2002 has been phenomenal and can be seen from the influence of Asian players in the Premiership. I am really looking forward to this new experience and the challenges it will bring."

Chairman Steven Lo believes the acquisition of Butt could help South China capture next year's AFC Cup, the Asian version of the Europa League. South China reached the semi-finals in 2009 before losing to eventual winners Kuwait SC.

"Everyone is excited by Nicky's arrival and the knowledge and experience he can bring to the team," he said.

"We are always looking to attract talent to strengthen our squad and this demonstrates our commitment to that. Nicky's records internationally and domestically speak for themselves and I am sure he will receive a fantastic reception when he arrives at Hong Kong Stadium.

"I myself am also excited to meet Nicky and discuss with him the about playing South China for the remainder of the season, including in the AFC Cup, which is always our goal to win."

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