By his own admission, talented Adelaide United midfielder, Riley McGree, says he was caught off guard after being named in the Socceroos’ preliminary 30-man squad.
McGree was a surprise inclusion in the squad announced by Head Coach, Ange Postecoglou, on Wednesday for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
McGree explained he thought the phone call from the FFA informing him of his selection was initially a hoax.
“Honestly I was lost for words,” McGree revealed.
“I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t really think it was true to be honest.
“But after it was explained I guess it kind of sunk in.”
McGree credited the Club and coaching staff for giving him the opportunity to play regularly and trusting his ability.
The 18-year-old only started his first game for Adelaide in January, but has been a revelation this season – impressing in his 14 appearances.
“It’s obviously a great opportunity for me,” McGree said.
“Being very young it was a bit unexpected to be honest, but it’s a great opportunity.
“I guess I’ve been given the opportunity in the A-League, the club have been good to me and they’ve believed in me.”
The ex-Gawler SC youngster admitted he was not expecting to have such an influential role with the Reds before the start of the campaign.
“Coming into the season I kind of thought I’d get some minutes here and there,” he said.
“But due to some unfortunate circumstances, injuries and players leaving I think I was thrown in at early stage unexpected.”
The Reds returned to the training track after a three-day break following a hectic schedule which saw the side play five matches in 17 days.
McGree said the team have recovered well from the gruelling travel and is raring to go ahead of the Reds’ home clash with South Korean outfit Jeju United on Wednesday night.
“The training today was just a bit of a light one to get a run through the legs, but I think the boys are feeling good,” he continued.
“There’s obviously more sessions to go before the game (against Jeju United) next Wednesday.
“But it should be a good week of training leading up to the game and we should go alright.”
McGree also said the promising performances against the likes of Melbourne Victory, Jiangsu Suning and Western Sydney Wanderers have provided more belief to the team.
“I think we played some teams with very high calibre,” McGree said.
“They’ve all got good players and I think we dealt with them quite well.
“I think we can definitely get the results throughout the rest of the season and on Wednesday.”
Adelaide United host Jeju United in their third AFC Champions League 2017 group stage match on Wednesday, 15 March at Hindmarsh Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.30pm ACDT.