HUNGRY: Riley McGree has returned from Belgium and hopes to get regular game time for the Newcastle Jets. Picture: AAP ImagesRILEY McGree’s decision to join the Newcastle Jets on loan from Belgium powerhouse ClubBrugge was not made lightly.
But the ambitious midfielder is certainly not returning to the A-League with his tail between his legs.
The 19-year-old touches down in Newcastle on Wednesday after spending Christmas with family in Adelaide. He will undergo a medical and meet with Jets coaching and playing staff in the start of what he hopes is a productive five months.
“I learnt a lot in my first six months in Europe, butI knew it was probably better to come back and play regular football,” McGree said.
“At my age, I need to be playing consistently week-in, week-out at the top level. I don’t worry what other people think,I just concentrate on working hard, playing well and improving.
“They (Club Brugge) will be keep a close eye on me, watchgame footage and getconstant updates on training loads and game loads.”
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McGree’s home-town club Adelaide, where he burst on to the scene in 2016-17, and Scottish giants Celtic were also interested in acquiring the attacking midfielder.
“I thought the A-League was my best option,” he said. “I was familiar with itand keen to come back and prove myself.The Jetsshowed they were really keen.
“They got in contact with me and were really friendly. Straight off the bat I spoke to the CEO Lawrie and the gaffer as well. The playing group is good, they are up their competing and getting good results.
“Throughout the whole process they were calling me and hada plan for me.”
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McGree will spend the rest of the A-League campaign in Newcastle and then return to Belgium.
“I like to focus more on the here and now than what could happen in the future,” he said. “I want to come back, do the best I can, hopefully get the team to the finals and take it out.
“I have heard good things about Newcastle and understand it is a really nice place.”
At Club Brugge McGree trained full-time with the first team squad and played for the reserves onMondays.
“I played as an eight or No.10,” he said. “I did OKbut there is always room for improvement. As I got used to it, I started to get more comfortable.
“Europe is much different than the A-League. It is a bit fasterand the quality is better. It was tough at time. You obviously miss your family and friends. It was a learning experience and I have taken a lot from it.I have definitely improved as a player and mentally.”
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McGree will spend a couple of days with his new teammates before jetting out with the Australian under-23s to contest the Asian Cup in China, which runs until late January.