Bert van Marwijk made the bold decision to drop Australia’s form centre-forward from the 2018 World Cup squad due to a preference for versatility and international experience ahead of the tournament in Russia.
Scotland-based striker Jamie Maclaren was the controversial omission from the 26-man training squad that will assemble in Antalya in Turkey next week, despite emerging as the most prolific Australian striker since January. Not even a hat-trick for Hibernian in their last game of the season against Rangers was enough to earn Maclaren a spot in the training camp squad despite being closely monitored by van Marwijk and his assistant coaches in recent weeks.
In form: Maclaren scored a hat-trick for Hibs on Saturday, but couldn't crack a place in the Socceroos' 26-man squad.
Instead, the Dutchman will take with him only two out-and-out centre-forward to Turkey, both of whom have to overcome fitness concerns. Tomi Juric is still shaking off a minor injury that has seen him miss the past month of football, while Tim Cahill’s much-publicised lack of game time at Millwall means he will have to prove his fitness in the two-week camp.
It’s understood the reason for Maclaren’s omission is largely down to his lack of experience at international level coupled with perceptions he is not tactically versatile compared to other options.
Maclaren has played four times for Australia but is yet to open his goalscoring account for the Socceroos, with his last match coming more than a year ago away to Thailand. Van Marwijk made no secret of his preference for experience in big games and international football when he declared Cahill “a special case”, highlighting his composure on the big stage.