Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren is excited to be recalled to the Socceroos squad, having been selected to take part in the upcoming World Cup qualifying game against Saudi Arabia on Thursday night.
With the side playing on home soil for the first time since October 2019, Maclaren says there’s a lot to play for in Thursday’s upcoming clash, but believes having a crowd at the game will be a major factor in wanting to get a win.
“There’s many factors given the fact we haven’t played in two years at home with a special crowd in a fantastic stadium, that’s [what’s] on the line” Maclaren told media on Monday.
“Given the fact that Saudi Arabia have won four in four, we’re just pushing ourselves and just worrying about what we can control.
“We know the crowd is going to be a huge factor in our favour on the night, us as players need to capitalise on that, like I said there’s many factors but it’s going to be a huge game and one that we expect to get the win and move on.”
Maclaren also drew back on missing out on the Socceroos camp in October due to quarantine restrictions, with the City striker says it was disappointing to have been left out.
“It was tough, really tough, the decisions were almost taken out of your hands because with the quarantine, given the situation going into preseason with the A-League when you do the two weeks [quarantine] and you come out your body wouldn’t be conditioned [and] you kind of risk injury,” he said.
“The other side of that is that you’ve got the mental side of it, just being able to sit in a room for 14 days knowing your teammates at Melbourne City were working hard.
“It was tough to not come to the last Socceroo games, it really upset me, it upset a few of us, obviously me, Andy [Andrew Nabbout and Lecks [Matthew Leckie] all play for the same club, so we talk daily about how much we miss it and dissect the game and how exciting it was to watch and play in Doha.
“When we saw the fixture come out and there was a game in New South Wales we couldn’t wait and we just wanted to put ourselves in the right position possible to be selected and here we are and we just look forward to Thursday now.”
Despite the A-League being in its offseason with the season set to commence in the coming weeks, Maclaren believes the lack of match action won’t have him looking out of place having been through a gruelling preseason with City.
“I’m hungry as ever, I think sometimes you can misunderstand the fact that the match fitness we’ve been training [for the past] 15 weeks, we’ve been doing a lot of long distance running which probably some of the boys have got a lot of minutes under the belt [from],” he said.
“That’s purely the nature of the A-League, it’s a long preseason, it’s given us [City players selected] enough time to make sure we’re working on our bodies and coming in fresh.
“But like I said we’ve had that much time our bodies are so fit and we’re coming in ready fresh and if selected ready to go, that’s why we’re here and I think the boss believes we’re ready to go if selected.”
Having been selected alongside City teammates Andrew Nabbout and Matthew Leckie, Maclaren says the front three have garnered great synergy during preseason and expect to also link up well if all on the pitch at the same time against Saudi Arabia.
“We’ve clicked really well obviously in training we work on our tactics day in and day out, we’re very thorough with coach Patrick Kisnorbo at Melbourne City,” he said.
“Me and Andy have had a great connection over the last year and a half, he gave me five-six goals on a plate last year, and that was with him having a few games out.
“With Lecks he’s scored a few goals and I’ve scored a few goals this preseason, and it case of we’re on the same page.
“Thursday if selected or we find ourselves all on the pitch at the same time we know what to expect from each other and that’s hard work and believing that everyone has each other’s back, and at the same time we can all chip in with goals, as many other players of the squad can.”
The Socceroos will be without Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy not taking part in the upcoming qualifying clash due to a mixture of injuries and quarantine restrictions.
Though Maclaren says they are big outs and a shock to the system, he also believes there’s enough depth in the squad to fill the holes.
“Those two names [Mooy & Rogic] speak for themselves, they’re very experienced quality players that have played at a top level and when you have players like that who have played around for a long time they’re obviously going to be missed,” he said.
“But at the same time there’s boys like Riley McGree who’s been in great form, Ajdin [Hrustic] that scored a great goal against Japan and has been playing over in Germany, and Jackson Irvine who’s a number ten who I’ve known for a very long time and he’s given me a few Socceroos assists.
“So we’ve got bodies to cover, those two boys who are quality players, but we’ve also got quality players that will slip into those roles as well.”
For fans wishing to attend Thursday night’s 8:10pm match against Saudi Arabia at CommBank Stadium, tickets are on sale via Ticketek.
The match against Saudi Arabia as well as the match against China will be broadcast in Australia across Network Ten. The match against China will kick off in Sharjah at 2:00am (AEDT) on November 17.
Image Supplied: Melbourne City