Sydney FC signs Socceroos captain

Riley Woodcock for the Perth Glory during the Round 15 A-League match between Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar at NIB Stadium in Perth, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Sydney FC has secured the services of Young Socceroos captain Riley Woodcock on a one-year deal. The left-back has been a regular fixture in Australia’s national youth teams over the last four years, helping the Joeys reach the last 16 of the U-17 World Cup in 2011 and progressing into the Australian Olyroos (U-23s) squad this season.

Graham Arnold says the signing of Riley Woodcock is a long-term investment for Sydney FC but has warned the young defender he faces a challenge to break into the Sky Blues’ first team. Woodcock, 20, has agreed a one-year deal with last season’s beaten grand finalists after leaving Perth Glory. The fullback, who has represented Australia at Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 level, joins Andrew Hoole and Brandon O’Neill as Sydney’s early reinforcements ahead of the 2015-16 campaign.

The promising defender joins a long list of youthful players at the club, including fellow Young Socceroos stars George Blackwood, Christopher Naumoff and Alex Gersbach, and recent 21-year-old signings Andrew Hoole and Brandon O’Neill.

Head coach Graham Arnold said the string of youthful signings are aimed at achieving long-term success for the club. Arnold has a track record of handing opportunities to youngsters, particularly during his time in charge of the Central Coast Mariners, offering hope to Woodcock of enjoying more involvement next season.

“Woodcock will provide competition for places and it’s a sign that we are building not only for next year but for the future of the club,” Arnold said.“Moving to a club like Sydney FC will be a challenge for him but one I’m more than confident he can succeed in,” added the coach.

The 20-year-old Western Australian has made 14 appearances for Perth Glory where he won the club’s Young Player of the Year in 2012/2013. Woodcock will team up with his new Sydney FC team mates when the squad returns to pre-season training in mid-July. Having notched a respectable 13 appearances for Perth in 2013-14, Woodcock managed just two last term, as Scott Jamieson and Josh Risdon held down regular spots in Kenny Lowe’s defence.

“I’m very thankful to be given the opportunity to play for a club with the stature of Sydney FC and extremely excited to be playing under Graham Arnold and his coaching staff,” said the 20 year old. “I know the club has big ambitious plans in the years ahead, particularly in Asia and that was a huge factor in me turning down other offers to sign for Sydney FC.”

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