Socceroos call puts Maclaren on cloud nine

Ben McKay
Jamie Maclaren feels club form and new faith from the boss has his primed to deliver for Australia

Even after his first World Cup axing, Jamie Maclaren never stopped believing he might make it to Russia.

The Hibernian striker was a part of Bert van Marwijk's 32-man squad, but wasn't named as part of a lead-up training camp.

So after scoring a hat-trick against Rangers on the last day of the Scottish season, he took off on holidays to Portugal and Dubai with a couple of crucial pieces of luggage.

"It's funny. I did actually bring a pair of boots to Dubai," he said.

"That was sort of gut instinct ... just trying to think and hope this might happen.

"So occasionally I was going to the gym in Dubai. Until you get the call it's butterflies in the stomach, it's hard to explain."

And the call came.

A knee injury to first-choice striker Tomi Juric concerned van Marwijk enough to call in Maclaren from holidays, where he had six days to win the Dutchman over a second time.

A fortnight of holidaying was a less than ideal base for the taxing hot-weather camp.

But the 24-year-old showed enough in training and in half an hour against Czech Republic to convince van Marwijk of his merits and include him in the final 23-man group.

"He pulled me aside in a warm up the first day and he said 'this is your opportunity'," he said.

"He goes, 'forget about what's happened in the last few weeks, I know you'll be a bit disappointed ... you haven't been able to come in as fresh as you've wanted but now you've got six days to really push your case'.

"I think in a few days he did see that I'm a different player to what we've got in the squad. As a coach, you might want options."

Maclaren has been aiming high since his junior days.

"When I left Australia when I was 15 it was always a goal of mine to make the under-20 World Cup," he said.

"I missed the Olympics and you can ask anyone ... I was in tears when we didn't qualify.

"The next target was the World Cup and it's happened and now I've just got to kick on."

And kicking on after a fine goalscoring run in Scotland means game-time in Russia, where Australia confront France, Denmark and Peru in the group stage.

"Every player wants to play," Maclaren said.

"I've had a good six months (and) my confidence is sky high in front of goal.

"I always know that if I have a coach that believes in me, that automatically comes through my system ... I got that feeling off Bert last week because he does see something in me and that as a player gives me instant confidence."