Ex-Roar star gets chance to impress Socceroos boss
STRIKER Jamie Maclaren will get an extended chance to prove himself in Socceroos colours, after being named in the 23-man squad to play five games in a Super June for the national team.
Coach Ange Postecoglou cut seven players from his initial, extended squad to play Saudi Arabia in a World Cup qualifier next Thursday, Brazil in a friendly the week after and then at least three games at the Confederations Cup in Russia.
With only three pure strikers in the squad - Maclaren, Tomi Juric and Tim Cahill - it means Maclaren has the opportunity to convince an apparently agnostic Postecoglou that his goalscoring record in the A-League should earn him more than last week's move to Germany.
The 23-year-old signed for SV Darmstadt 98 in the Bundesliga 2 in the wake of being the leading Australian scorer in the A-League for two consecutive seasons, with a record of 40 goals in 53 games at Brisbane Roar.
The seven players to miss out from the 30-man squad were Mark Birighitti, Alex Gersbach, Craig Goodwin, Rhyan Grant, James Jeggo, Mustafa Amini and Riley McGree, leaving just three uncapped players - Ajdin Hrustic, Dylan McGowan and Danny Vukovic - in an experienced group.
"There has been some tough decisions in cutting the squad from 30 down to the final 23 but that's a good sign of the strength of the squad we have been able to name and the depth we have been able to cultivate over the last three years," Postecoglou said.
"If you look through the squad we now have a core group of players who have played 30, 40 and more caps and have experienced World Cup, Asian Cup and the tough road of World Cup qualifying.
"There are some players who are unlucky to miss out but if you look at the 23 players we have selected everyone has earned their Socceroos call up whether they are one of the experienced players with World Cup and Asian Cup experience or the three uncapped players.
"June is a big month and we will need to test that depth but initially our focus is solely on the World Cup Qualifier against Saudi Arabia at Adelaide Oval on June 8."
That game is the most critical of the five matches, with Australia desperately needing a win to avoid the wildcard route of a series of playoffs to try to reach Russia 2018.