McGree and Blackwood thrilled after U-23 call-up


Adelaide United duo, Riley McGree and George Blackwood, admit any chance to represent the national team is a tremendous honour.

The pair along with fellow Reds, Lachlan Brook and Daniel Marguš were named in the Australia U-23 squad for two friendlies against New Zealand in early September.

The two games – to be played in Wollongong and Sydney – serves as preparation for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship in Thailand in January where the top three teams will join host nation Japan in qualifying for Tokyo 2020.

McGree said there is a real sense of pride when receiving an international call-up.

“I’ve experienced it before and it doesn’t get any worse or any better any time,” McGree said.

“It’s a great honour to be called up and represent your country at any level so I’m excited and can’t wait.”

The midfielder is also relishing the fact they get to play the games in Australia, something which is somewhat of a rarity for the Olyroos.

“I think they’re friendlies and in the past there have not been too many friendlies on home soil for the under 23s anyway,” he said.

“We’re coming into a pretty important tournament early next year so we want to get game time together as a squad and hopefully build on what we’re working towards that is the Olympics.”

During his first stint with Adelaide, McGree was in fact a surprise call-up to the Socceroos by then boss Ange Postecoglou, but did not feature.

The 20-year-old said he is determined to return to that level.

“I really want that sooner rather than later,” he said.

“I’m 20 years old and but age is only a number and given I get out the best of what I can achieve I think hopefully I’ll be in that set-up and be a regular part of that set-up soon.”

Meanwhile, Blackwood is also looking forward to be a part of another Olyroos camp.

The striker has scored five goals in nine matches with the U-23s outfit and said it was another opportunity to develop and improve.

“It’s fantastic and obviously going into a camp like that it’s always good to sort of play a different style and round your game off a little bit more,” the 22-year-old explained.

“It’s obviously fantastic to go in there and be under Arnie (Graham Arnold) and a few of the other coaches and learn even more and just try to soak it all in.

“And try to play a few more games in that period too so I’m very excited for that.”