Australian defender Ryan McGowan is closing in on his first national team call-up as his club career at Scottish Premier League club Hearts flourishes.
The Adelaide-born 22-year-old has represented his country at three youth levels and was part of a Socceroos development squad that played two games in Germany 10 months ago.
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck was impressed with what he saw from a versatile defender capable of playing anywhere across the back four and will look at McGowan when he returns to Europe on a scouting mission at the conclusion of the A-League season.
Sources close to Osieck say it is a question of when, not if for McGowan. But it won’t happen next month for the dead World Cup rubber against Saudi Arabia in Sydney, with Osieck likely to lean heavily on A-League talent.
McGowan, who has been playing at left back for his club which sits third in the SPL, had been linked with a possible defection to Scotland’s national team, the nation of both parents.
But he is determined to play for the Socceroos, telling The World Game: “If I am on the radar that’s great but most importantly I need to be playing regularly for my club to have any real chance of a call-up.
“My heart has always been with Australia. I was born and brought up there and it’s only the fact my parents are from Glasgow that people have been talking about me having that option.
“It’s really been just hearsay. I’d love to get a call-up for Australia. I enjoyed that camp last year and took a lot away from it. It would be a dream come true to play for the Socceroos.”
McGowan, who has been at Tyncastle since the age of 17, has become a firm favourite of new boss, Portuguese Paulo Sergio, after initially being left out when he took over from the sacked Jim Jefferies in August last year.
“We’re unbeaten in six games and I’m enjoying my football,” said McGowan, who has 18 months left on his current deal.
“I’m not looking too far ahead. It’s all about playing well and seeing where it takes me. I am happy in Scotland but who knows where the future lies," he said.
“They might offer me another contact, somebody might come in for me, or the club might not think I’m good enough, so I have to try and keep improving.
“I just want to play at the highest level I can and if that is the SPL then fine. If it’s the Premier League one day then that’s great.”
McGowan doesn’t buy into the argument that Scottish football is a flawed product, insisting the level of the SPL is higher than many skeptics imagine.
“Look at the situation with Matt McKay. We all know how good he is but he isn’t getting a game at Rangers at the minute and the standard here is much better than some people reckon. There are a lot of good players.
“Hopefully Matt’s chance will some come at Rangers.”
The utility doesn’t have a favorite position, although he says he feels slightly more at home at centre back, where he began this season.
“As long as I’m getting picked, I’m happy,” McGowan said.
Porto won its third consecutive Liga title and completed an unbeaten season in the process after beating Pacos Ferreira 2-0.