RYAN McGowan has targeted a return to British football after his deal expired in China – and reckons he will come back a better player than the one that left Hearts two years ago.
The former Tynecastle defender’s contract with Shandong Luneng Taishan ended last week but only after he helped his side win the national cup for a record fifth time.
McGowan – who featured in three games for Australia at last summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil – ultimately wants to play in the English Premier League. But he is open to all offers and would consider a return to Scotland, where he spent eight years with Hearts and scored in their 5-1 Scottish Cup final win over Hibs in 2012. The 25-year-old was wanted by Rangers three months after that success at Hampden but he turned down the chance to move to the Ibrox side on summer transfer window deadline day. His availability is likely to rouse interest and he is already understood to be on the radar of two clubs south of the border.
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McGowan has been back in Edinburgh for the last fortnight and, although his season ended in November, he is ready to play if he can strike a deal somewhere. He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in China but I had a long time in Scotland before that. It’s great to be back in the UK, where football is the number one sport and everyone lives and breathes it.
“I have had three or four weeks off since my season finished but I’ve been keeping myself ticking over in case something pops up and I’m ready to jump right back into things. I’d like to think I’ve improved while I’ve been away. I’m still only 25 so there are plenty more years in which I can get better again.
“But I don’t think I’d have done my job properly as a professional footballer if I hadn’t kicked on since leaving Hearts. I’ve won another cup in China, I’ve played in a World Cup, I’ve won another seven or eight caps for Australia and I’ve played between 70 and 80 games in another league.
“I definitely feel I’ve gained a lot of good experience and I’ve come back a stronger player. I’m open to anything. It’s good to be in control of what is happening. I’ll weigh up all my options and make the right decision for me.”
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