Killen keen to stay in China, Phoenix not out

TONY SMITH IN DUNEDIN
Last updated 05:00 23/03/2013
Chris Killen
Photosport
OPENING STRIKE: Chris Killen (centre) celebrates with All Whites' team-mates after scoring the opening goal against New Caledonia.

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Senior All White Chris Killen hopes to extend his career in China but hasn't completely ruled out a possible return home to the Wellington Phoenix.

The 31-year-old just started the Chinese Super League season with Chongqin FC, the club he joined last year after an earlier stint in Shenzhen Ruby where he scored 17 goals in 35 games.

Island Bay-raised Killen is enjoying his time in China after 11 years with United Kingdom clubs, including Manchester City, Hibernian, Celtic and Middlesbrough.

"This is my last year's contract with the team," he said in Dunedin before last night's World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia.

"We'll see how it goes. As I say, I'm enjoying my time there and will probably look to stay out there a couple more seasons."

What about rounding out his career with the Phoenix?

"Never say never. Looking back, who would have thought I'd be in China? It's probably a much bigger move to go to China than it would have been to go to Wellington.

"If that option's there, it would be great for something in the future. But for now I'm in China . . . and I'm not looking too far ahead."

The Killen family may settle in the UK when he hangs up his boots. His wife is English and they have "set up a base in Manchester".

That's a long way, geographically and culturally, from Chongqin, a city of around 30 million in south-west China. The Chinese season started last week after an "intense, military-like pre-season".

Killen played in the midfield last night for the All Whites but turned out "pretty much as a lone striker" for Chongqin.

"I've enjoyed my time there and playing up front. Every moment I've had in China, I've enjoyed."

Meanwhile, two other All Whites from Wellington hope to secure regular game-time in Europe after the World Cup qualifying series.

Kosta Barbarouses, a former Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar A-League player, is on loan to Greek first division club Panathinaikos from Russian second division club Alania Vladikavkaz.

Midfielder Dan Keat is trialling in Scandinavia after he left US Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy.

Wellington-born Barbarouses, 23, was mainly used off the bench as an impact player at Panathinaikos, getting "15 minutes here and there".

He was also on the bench last night for the All Whites.

Keat, 25, arrived in Dunedin after two weeks in Scandinavia, training and playing in trial games.

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"I'm hoping that something will come through in the next week or so and maybe by the time I get back there, something will be sorted."

Asked if he would consider the A-League, Keat said: "All options are on the table. I want to be in a situation where I have the ability to play every week at a good environment.

"I went to Europe with the idea there's a lot of opportunity over there."

- The Dominion Post

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