GEORGE Blackwood's first season in English football has been character building, if nothing else.

Having moved halfway around the world to join Oldham Athletic from Adelaide United, the striker spent much of his debut Football League campaign sidelined with a serious back injury - a predicament that was made even worse by being in lockdown.

Unable to socialise indoors, and unable to do much in the way of exercise outdoors because of the nature of his injury, Blackwood spent his time away from Boundary Park home alone in his apartment.

His isolation was compounded by images of family and friends back home in Australia - where the virus has been under control for many months - living life more or less as normal. So much so that social media - an important means of him staying connected - became a no-go zone.

"I have to switch social media off," explained the 23-year-old.

"Social media isn't great at the moment, especially as they're having the time of their lives, but it has to get better."

On the pitch, things did improve for Blackwood. But only briefly.

Having first got injured in November after a promising start to Latics life and two goals in three league games, Blackwood suffered a setback soon after making his comeback in February.

By the time he was fit again, he had a new manager to impress after fellow Australian Harry Kewell, who had signed the forward in September, was replaced by Keith Curle in March.

After making his second comeback as a second half substitute at Morecambe, Blackwood came off the bench to score in a 3-0 win at Harrogate.

But that proved to be his last game of a difficult campaign after another injury concern.

So, to say the 2020/21 campaign has not gone to plan would be a gross understatement. But the Sydney-born forward is determined to be stronger for his experience.

"When you're injured for three or four months it's not ideal that you have to go home and sit in a box for 24 hours before you rock up to training the next day. But I think whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger a little bit with that.

"I've got through the worst of it now I think. It couldn't have got any worse than that time.

"I'm just looking to get a big pre-season under my belt."

And in a football sense, he says it has been a good education in the games he has been involved in, as well as on the training ground.

"I've learned a lot, football's a lot different but I'm really enjoying it, whenever I'm fit and I'm playing, it's just sort of getting out there," he said.

"But I think if I have a good pre-season 2021/22 can be a really good year."

Looking at the positives of the last season, Blackwood felt fortunate that he was still able to go to work. Even though he could not do much more than gentle exercise on a bike he was grateful for human contact and the camaraderie of the dressing room to keep him going.

"The boys are great, the backroom staff, everyone is fantastic. I love the football club," he said.

It has been challenging, though, not even have the carrot of a summer back in Australia, and a reunion with family and friends, to look forward to.

Under normal circumstances, after the last game and end-of-season debrief meeting, he would have flown home to reunite with family and friends. But because of the restrictions, and a scheduled training camp with Australia Under 23s, it is not going to be possible for him this year.

"I was hoping but it's just way too hard. I'm going to have to stick it out here," said Blackwood.

"I've got a camp for Australia Under 23s that I'll be able to get to in June sometime so I'm hoping I'll be in for that, so going home doesn't really make sense with two weeks' hotel quarantine if I go back.

"It's not ideal but it is what it is, you've just got to get through it.

"It's just about getting out there (on the pitch) and I think if the fans give me a bit more time I can really show what I can do, and if I can get a run of games I know I can have a good crack.

"Three goals is obviously nowhere near where I wanted to get (this season) but I think if the fans can have a bit of patience with me, if I get my body right I know I can prove what I can do and score a lot of goals next year."