Six Guangzhou Evergrande stars in China squad to face Uzbekistan, Qatar
New Werder Bremen signing Zhang Yuning is once again the only non-domestic based player to be named in Marcello Lippi's China national team squad for the country's upcoming World Cup qualifiers as the Italian coach continues to lean on Chinese Super League leaders Guangzhou Evergrande.
Lippi selected six of his former club's players, including veteran captain Zheng Zhi, as the Chinese prepare for their final two qualifying matches, against Uzbekistan on Aug. 31 and Qatar five days later.
China are bottom of Group A of Asia's qualifying tournament for Russia 2018 and would need to win both matches with other results going their way to have any hope of claiming a place in the playoffs for the continent's half spot in December's draw.
Zheng Zhi is joined in the squad by club mates Feng Xiaoting, Zhang Linpeng, Gao Lin, Zeng Cheng and Yu Hanchao while Shanghai SIPG trio Wu Lei, Yan Junling and Wang Shenchao have also been called up.
Veteran Guangzhou R&F striker Xiao Zhi was a surprise inclusion with the 32-year-old in line for only the third cap of his career while uncapped duo He Chao and Li Lei of Changchun Yatai and Beijing Guoan respectively have also been selected.
Guangzhou Evergrande: Zheng Zhi, Feng Xiaoting, Zhang Linpeng, Gao Lin, Zeng Cheng, Yu Hanchao
Shanghai SIPG: Wu Lei, Yan Junling, Wang Shenchao
Beijing Guoan: Zhang Xizhe, Li Lei
Guangzhou R&F: Jiang Zhipeng, Xiao Zhi
Hebei CFFC: Yin Hongbo, Ren Hang, Gao Zhunyi
Changchun Yatai: He Chao
Shandong Luneng: Hao Junmin, Wang Dalei
Tianjin Quanjian: Wang Yongper, Zhao Xuri
Beijing Renhe: Deng Hanwen
Werder Bremen (Ger): Zhang Yining
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch