• Ryan McGowan is back in the Socceroos fold. (AAP)Source: AAP
Experienced defender Ryan McGowan declared that signing for Sydney FC two years ago was one of the most inspired decisions of his career after he was named in the Socceroos' squad for next month's FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Philip Micallef

SBS The World Game
26 May 2021 - 12:50 PM  UPDATED 26 May 2021 - 12:50 PM

Coach Graham Arnold has picked a strong 31-member squad for the completion of qualifying Group B that comprises four matches in 12 days in a hub in Kuwait from June 4 (AEST).

Australia have maximum points from four matches against Kuwait, Nepal, Chinese Taipei and Jordan.

They lead the Kuwaitis and Jordanians by two points and have a game in hand.

"I'm delighted and can't wait to meet up with the boys," McGowan, 31, said.

"I was not sure if I would get picked but the selection vindicates my decision in 2019 to join the biggest club in Australia.

"I was probably a chance to be selected last year but the games were postponed due to COVID-19. I think I have been playing well and I knew I was there or thereabouts. I always put my hand up for selection but you never know until you get that phone call.

"The last two years with Sydney have been really good because they put me back on the radar. You are playing 90 minutes regularly in a very successful team.

"Coming to Sydney has paid off for me. We play in the biggest games of the A-League season - whether it's the derby or the 'Big Blue' - and many fans follow us so you know that if you perform well for such a high-profile club you will be rewarded because there are people watching you and you get recognised.

"That's why I jumped on the opportunity to come to Australia and play for Sydney.

"It is one of the best football decisions I ever made. My career was at the crossroads at the time because of a major injury and I needed an environment where I could flourish and be successful. In Sydney I found what I wanted because my stay here has turned out to be exactly how I planned it.

"We won the double last year and even though we have lost this year's premiership we are in a strong position to finish second and kick on in the finals."

If Sydney are to become champions for the third time on the trot they will have to do it without the steadying influence of McGowan.

The central defender, along with goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne and fullback Rhyan Grant who are also called up, will play against Adelaide United on Saturday before they fly out to Kuwait on Sunday. All three will miss the A-League finals. 

McGowan last played for Australia in a 1-1 draw with Chile in Moscow in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

A knee injury sustained in January 2018 while playing for Bradford and which kept him out of the game for seven months put paid to his chances of taking part in his second World Cup after playing with distinction in Brazil four years earlier.

But he never gave up hope of adding to his 20 international caps.

"I believe that if you play well you are always in contention," he said.

"There are not that many centre-backs at the moment that are playing regularly so my experience may have played a small part in me being involved again."

McGowan made his Socceroos debut when he came on as a substitute for Sasa Ognenovski in a 3-1 defeat to Scotland in Edinburgh in August 2012.