In-form striker Jamie Maclaren is relishing his opportunity back in the Caltex Socceroo squad and is ready to step-up in the absence of a couple of attacking stars for next week’s World Cup qualifier with Thailand.
With Tim Cahill rested and Tomi Juric ruled out through injury, Maclaren is right in the frame for a start for next Tuesday night’s clash in Bangkok.
And the 23-year-old is certainly ready, having scored in his last two Hyundai A-League games with Brisbane Roar.
“I’ve always had the confidence but you get that boost when you score two in two,” Maclaren told FFA TV.
“It’s actually really good timing and I’ve come into camp full of confidence.
He added on the prospect of filling Cahill’s and Juric’s boots: “I’m ready. I’m full of confidence.
“But we all have one objective and that’s to qualify. So whoever plays will do a job and I’m going to work hard all week and hopefully I can contribute to this Socceroos squad.”
After scoring the winner against Melbourne City last Friday night, Maclaren was one of the first five players to arrive in camp.
And he trained with Trent Sainsbury, Nathan Burns, Matthew Spiranovic and Adam Federici on Monday.
Twenty of the 23-man squad are now in camp, with only Mark Birighitti, Mat Ryan and Apo Giannou to arrive later on Tuesday.
This is Maclaren’s second call-up for the national team, having made his debut in the friendly against England at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light in May.
It was a reward for his 20-goal season in the Hyundai A-League and an experience the Melbourne-born striker thrived on, leaving him hungry for more.
“I learned about standards, professionalism and the way that the boss [Ange Postecoglou] sets them up,” Maclaren said of his first camp.
“It’s amazing to see such fantastic footballers in Australia. Mile Jedinak, the captain is someone I look up to. He obviously plays at Aston Villa, my boyhood club.
“There’s just a fantastic group and I’m thankful to be involved and hopefully I can contribute.”
The Caltex Socceroos head into the clash at the Rajamangala Stadium in second spot in Group B, on eight points after two wins and two draws from their opening four games.
In contrast, Thailand are yet to pick up a point after four defeats and will be desperate to breathe some life into their faint qualifying hopes.
“I’ve played [against Thailand] before with the Young Socceroos and they are a quick, sharp sort of team,” Maclaren said.
“But the quality we have in the squad and the way we set up, if we get an early goal it will settle the tide.
He added: “My first camp being a friendly game, it was still an amazing experience but I know the difference between a friendly and a World Cup qualifier, it’s that little bit more intense.”
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