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    O’Connor Defends Russia Move

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    Ex-Scotland striker Garry O’Connor defended his move to the Russian second tier in an interview with R-Sport on Friday, comparing the standard of play similar to the Scottish Premier League.

    Ex-Scotland striker Garry O’Connor defended his move to the Russian second tier in an interview with R-Sport on Friday, comparing the standard of play similar to the Scottish Premier League.

    O’Connor moved to FC Tomsk on a free transfer Thursday, signing a two-year deal, after his contract with Scottish side Hibernian expired at the end of last season.

    His new Siberian employers were relegated last season to the Russian First Division after finishing 15th of 16 teams in the Premier League and are targeting an immediate return to the top flight.

    “The First Division here, from what I’m seeing, is quite a good standard, it’s maybe a bit like the SPL,” O’Connor said.

    “The players are a lot fitter here and there’s more of a passing game as well, so it’ll suit my game a little bit as well.”

    O’Connor first played in Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow between 2006 and 2007 and struggled to adapt to life in Russia, but said he had no second thoughts about a return to the country.

    “I had offers from Scottish clubs and from abroad. I weighed all my options up. It was a family decision. It wasn’t a hard decision,” he said.

    “Tomsk showed a really big interest in me, how they followed my career and the manager really wanted to take me to this club so it was a bit of a no-brainer for me.”

    The striker became the first British footballer to play in Russia in 2006 after joining Lokomotiv Moscow, but failed to hold down a first-team place during his 15-month spell with the Railwaymen.

    O'Connor was sentenced to 200 hours community service in Edinburgh last month after he was found guilty of possessing cocaine and obstructing a police officer, soon after he was acquitted on unrelated charges of insurance fraud.

    He earned 16 caps for Scotland between 2002 and 2009, scoring four goals.

     

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