• Ryan McGowan hopes to get back into the Socceroos team next month (Getty Images AsiaPac)
Defender Ryan McGowan is confident he'll keep his starting spot under his new Chinese Super League coach as he vies for a Socceroos recall ahead of a crucial 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier and the Confederations Cup.
By
Philip Micallef

11 May 2017 - 6:26 PM  UPDATED 11 May 2017 - 6:36 PM

McGowan signed for promoted club Guizhou Zhicheng in the off-season and has managed to start all seven matches in the new CSL so far.

However, having been sent off for handling the ball on the goal line in the match against Shanghai SIPG at the weekend, he will miss the first game in charge for incoming Spanish coach Gregorio Manzano, who took over from Li Bing.

Most players would be entitled to be nervous about such a situation but McGowan hopes his strong form all season and rising reputation in China will hold him in good stead.

The defender, who last featured for the Socceroos in their 1-1 draw with Japan in October, is confident he'll be able to maintain the regular game time coach Ange Postecoglou expects from his players.

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"I've been lucky enough to start every game this season but we have a new coach Manzano who arrived on Tuesday," said McGowan.

"I am suspended this weekend but hopefully I can stay in his plans and get straight back in and get as much game time as possible.

"I hope the red card won't cost me, fingers crossed. As I said I have been playing well so I have to wait and see.

"I'm enjoying it. This is my fourth season in China and I have built a reputation here.

"With the money being spent in China on players it's an exciting league and one with a lot of attention on it at the moment.

"We were just promoted this season so we're looking forward to the challenge of trying to keep the club in the league."

Guizhou are third bottom in the league going into the weekend round but McGowan said the table did not provide a true reflection of the team's strength.

"We have been playing better than the results have shown," he explained.

"It's a tough league this year with a lot of good teams but our aim is to stay in the competition and I believe we can achieve that.

"I place myself under pressure to preform at a high level every game I play to try and help the team any way i can."

McGowan knows the importance of playing regularly in terms of selection for the Socceroos, who play Saudi Arabia in Adelaide in June in their quest to reach the finals in Russia.

The Socceroos are in for a testing month. After the Saudi clash they face Brazil in Melbourne five days later before they take on Brazil, Cameroon and Chile in the Confederations Cup in Russia.

"Getting regular game time is the key but playing well is just as important," he said.

"I'm just focused on doing well here at the moment and if I'm lucky enough to be called back into the squad I can come in with a lot of recent games under my belt and in some form."

The Socceroos have played with three at the back instead of the usual four since McGowan played against the Japanese in Melbourne last October.

"I think Ange has been pretty open in that he wants the team to be able to play in a number of formations," he said.

"With the Socceroos I've been used either as a right back or a centre-back. I have played a lot of football as part of a back three so that may be in my advantage as there isn't a huge number of centre-backs playing regularly at the minute."

Many fans are concerned that the Socceroos do not score as many goals as their highly productive possession game deserves but McGowan said scoring is not the sole responsibility of the forwards.

"I think every team in the world would like to score more goals but it is not just down to the strikers or attacking midfielders to score," he explained.

"Same way as it isn't just the back four or back three in defence that stop goals. We are playing against some high quality teams who don't just hand out cheap and easy goals.

"I have 100 per cent confidence in the group's ability to qualify of the World Cup."