HEARTS defender Ryan McGowan is set for the perfect birthday present at Easter Road next Wednesday with a first full international cap for Australia in the friendly with Scotland.
Australia coach Holger Osieck today named McGowan in his 20-man squad and will travel to the UK this weekend to watch the player in the Edinburgh derby.
McGowan turns 23 on the day of the game and, having previously represented his country at youth, under-20 and under-23 level, is eager to achieve a full cap. His consistent performances for Hearts last season were noted by Football Federation Australia with a view to a maiden call-up, which Osieck has now granted.
McGowan was named Hearts’ Young Player of the Year and scored twice against city rivals Hibs last season, the second goal coming in the 5-1 Scottish Cup final victory. He impressed Osieck during a 2011 training camp in Germany aimed at blooding potential new recruits for the full Australian squad. Now he is poised for an international debut in his adopted home city.
“We had McGowan in our scouting camp last year in Germany when I had the opportunity to have a look at a number of young talents. He did a good job year although was a little bit inexperienced,” said Osieck. “But in the meantime he has become a regular starter for his team Hearts and is doing very well. It’s a good opportunity for me to have a look at him and see if he’s ready for it.”
The ultimate aim for McGowan is to secure a regular place in the Australian squad and help them qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He previously admitted that would be a dream scenario, saying: “Obviously I’ll be doing everything I can to try and make that squad, just like everyone else aged between 19 and 35. That’s the dream, to play at a World Cup for your country and if I was to ever do that, that would be the ultimate in my career, it’d be amazing.”
Scotland coach Craig Levein spoke earlier this week about how he is considering calling McGowan into the Scotland squad. The player is eligible because both his parents are from Glasgow. McGowan’s first choice, however, would be Australia having been born in Adelaide.
Levein said: “I have got a game in November against Luxembourg and Ryan is one that I am considering looking at for that. He has done well and he had a really good season last season and I would love to see him progress and do as well again this year. He is an exciting young player and we will see how that one goes.”