JET-LAG was not the only reason Craig Goodwin's head was spinning yesterday after the Newcastle tyro was named in a Socceroos training squad just hours after returning from a month-long trial with English Premier League club Reading.
Goodwin was the sole Newcastle player chosen in a 12-man squad of A-League-based Socceroos for a training camp on the Central Coast next week, although five of his Jets teammates are in the Young Socceroos training squad.
The senior squad includes Socceroos regulars such as skipper Lucas Neill, Jade North, Mark Milligan and Eugene Galekovic, and Goodwin said it was a thrill to learn he would be training alongside them, and under head coach Holger Osieck, before the World Cup Asian qualifiers against Japan, Jordan and Iraq next month. Overseas players will form the bulk of the squad for the qualifiers.
"To be honest, that came as a bit of a surprise," Goodwin told the Herald. "But another fantastic opportunity has come my way and hopefully I can do really well in the camp."
Goodwin said he had been told by Reading manager Nigel Adkins and technical director Nick Hammond that he was unlikely to be signed.
But he was assured he remained in their plans.
"What I was told was that at this point in time they won't be offering me a contract, but what they will be doing is monitoring my progress very closely," he said.
‘‘They’ve got a lot of contacts in Australia.
‘‘It was mainly to do with the circumstances of them being relegated. They’ve had to say no, but they haven’t shut the door on me entirely and perhaps something could happen in the future.’’
The 21-year-old said the realisation that he created a positive impression at such a high level was a consolation.
‘‘The experience that I gained over there was fantastic, and I think the best thing I learned is that really I’m not that far off the standard.
‘‘Nigel Adkins said he was really impressed with me, and even the captain, Jobi McAnuff, said I was doing exceptionally well.
‘‘It was good just to see the standard and see where I’m at ... I had my trial period extended by 10 days and I got to play a game against Queens Park Rangers, who had quite a few first-teamers playing, and we won that game 3-1.
‘‘So there were a lot of positives to take out of it.’’
Goodwin arrived in Newcastle a year ago after playing just four matches for Melbourne Heart but played in 25 Jets games last season.
Little more than a year ago he was working in Kentucky Fried Chicken to supplement his meagre football income.
‘‘It’s been a quick rise. But I just want to keep working hard and progressing as a player.
‘‘The whole experience at Reading was fantastic, and now being picked to train with the Socceroos is another boost for my confidence. Hopefully it all sets me up for an even better season next year.’’
The senior team camp will be held with the Young Socceroos squad, who are preparing for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. The players from both squads will hold an open training session at Pluim Park, Lisarow, from 4.30pm on Wednesday and an autograph signing session from 4pm.
“The purpose of this training camp is to assess the physical standard of the players out of season and get them to a similar level compared to the [overseas-based] players,’’ Osieck said.