JOINT overnight leader of the Volvo China Open, Blackwood's Bradley Dredge was five under par after nine holes of his round, with David Howell on four under after only managing to add a 72 to his opening 68.

Meanwhile, Matteo Manassero enjoyed a welcome return to form as Kiradech Aphibarnrat boosted his chances of back-to-back European Tour titles in the Volvo China Open on Friday.

Manassero became the youngest ever winner of the BMW PGA Championship in 2013, claiming his fourth European Tour title at the age of 20 in a play-off at Wentworth.

The 22-year-old Italian has recorded just three top-10 finishes since then and missed the cut in his first five events this season, but a second round of 68 at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club gave him a share of the clubhouse lead with Aphibarnrat on five under par.

"I'm playing very solid golf and I'm glad to have my confidence back and to be shooting some good scores again," Manassero said. "I like this course and it suits my game.

Aphibarnrat, who won the Shenzhen International in a play-off on Sunday, also added a 68 to his opening 71 thanks to five birdies and one bogey.

"I'm very happy, especially as it's playing tough - there are lots of slopes on the greens and the course is very firm," the 25-year-old Thai said.

France's Julien Quesne had moved into the lead out on the course, four birdies on the front nine taking him to seven under par and a shot ahead of compatriot Alexander Levy.

Levy, the defending champion, had picked up shots on the second, fifth and seventh.