Adelaide United midfielder Vince Lia says young striker George Blackwood is one to look out for in the future.
Blackwood has scored five goals in 19 games this season and enjoyed more minutes after leaving Sydney FC.
Lia has been in the A-League since day one and admitted Blackwood surprised him when he came from Wellington Phoenix to join the Reds.
“I knew he was a big strong boy, but he was quite young,” Lia told FourFourTwo.
“Throughout pre-season he was leading the line for us and cemented his place in the starting XI. He’s come under a bit of criticism because I guess he doesn’t score as many goals as people would like.
“He does a lot of other things for us, he takes the attention away from the wingers who sometimes get the credit.
“He’s now scored a few goals. He’s under a bit of pressure now that we’ve signed Dzengis (Cavusevic) and Baba (Diawara) is returning to full fitness in a few weeks."
Despite the lack of depth in the Socceroos’ strike force, Lia felt it was too early to tout Blackwood for Russia.
“It’s not something he’d be thinking about just yet, he’s still quite young and hasn’t had a full season of quality consistent football,” he said.
“Being at Sydney, they won the championship, so he knows what it takes to be in a winning team. If he keeps going the way he’s going, he’ll be one to look out for because he’s big, strong and leads the line well.”
Lia believes this has been one of the most challenging seasons of his career, after playing just four games this campaign.
Lia spent 10 years with the Nix before signing for Adelaide and was sidelined with a knee injury in October and again in December, both coming from tackles.
It hasn’t all been bad news for Lia though, he managed a brace that impressed many against his former club, Melbourne Victory, in Round 3.
The 32-year-old has now been back in training for four weeks and was available in Adelaide's 1-0 loss to Brisbane Roar, but wasn’t selected. He's now hopeful of returning against Melbourne City on Friday.
Lia admitted the reverse games against City were two of the worst performances this season and the last time they played in January, the Reds were handed a 5-0 loss.
“I came here, I wanted to play as much as I could, I started pretty well, scoring a few goals and got injured,” Lia said.
“I re-injured that same knee two games after coming back, it’s been probably the worst season of my career injury wise. It’s disappointing, but that’s football.
“I’ve got five games to go where I need to play as much as I can and hopefully do enough to get another contract.
“My body actually feels good, apart from my knee which was a contact injury, you can’t really do much about it.
“Although I haven’t played those games which take a toll on the body, I feel good and l can go around a few more years, but if I keep getting injured, it’s going to make it difficult.
“Without game time, I’m probably as fit as I can be now, I just need minutes.”