As borders re-open, Jamie Maclaren would “love” a Socceroo return

As Australia opens its borders to the world and the Socceroos prepare to end a 763 absence from home, Melbourne City striker and reigning A-League Men Golden Boot winner Jamie Maclaren says he would “love” to get the chance to represent his nation once again.

Following the successful staging of two friendlies between the Matildas and Brazil in Sydney last month, Football Australia announced on Friday that its men’s national side was set to return to the Harbour City on November 11; ending a more than two-year absence from the nation with a crucial World Cup qualifier against Group B leaders Saudi Arabia. Fans, eager to see the Socceroos return home for such a high-stakes fixture, have already snapped up nearly 5000 of the approximate 22,500 seats on offer within hours of tickets going on pre-sale to Football Account holders.

That game will then be followed by an away fixture against China, who coach Graham Arnold’s side beat 3-0 in their first meeting, at a venue still to be determined. 

See Also: John Aloisi making some big changes at Western United

Maclaren, alongside other domestic-based Socceroos such as Mathew Leckie and Andrew Redmayne, hasn’t featured for the national side since the commencement of the second phase of AFC World Cup qualifying — withdrawing from consideration, with Arnold’s blessing, due to the mental and physical toll that hotel quarantine would inflict in the midst of their domestic pre-seasons. 

However, from November 1, fully vaccinated Australians that return a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their departure time will be able to leave Australia without needing an outwards travel exemption, and fully inoculated citizens will now be able to fly into Sydney or Melbourne from overseas without undergoing a mandatory 14-day isolation period in hotel quarantine. Combine this with the easing of restrictions of travel between New South Wales and Victoria, and the door has ostensibly been thrown open for players from Melbourne’s three A-League Men clubs to pull on the Green and Gold without having their pre-seasons thrown into chaos by quarantine requirements. 

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
You’re seeing this advert because this is an unpaid, self-published piece.

You can support his ongoing work by buying him a coffee:

It is understood that six Melbourne City players have been placed on the standby for possible selection in the squad to face Saudi Arabia and China: Nathaniel Atkinson, Curtis Good, Connor Metcalfe, Andrew Nabbout, Leckie and Maclaren. The latter three’s availability will provide an important boost in firepower for Arnold ahead of the crucial fixtures, with Tom Rogic, Ajdin Hrustić, and Adam Taggart all under injury clouds.  

Speaking to JDL Media, Maclaren didn’t yet know if he was to be be tapped to return to the national team setup but, with restrictions easing, he would welcome the opportunity. 

“We’ve had discussions with the physios and staff within the Socceroos,” the striker said.

“I’m led to believe the squad gets named tomorrow but I haven’t been told and the boys whose names are in the hat. We don’t pick the team, all we can do is make sure we’re fit and healthy. If selected it’s always an honour to play for your country. 

See Also: Josh Cavallo: Coming out as gay has ‘taken me to a new level’

“It’s a huge game, it’s great to know that the Socceroos are playing at home and the last time they played at home was a great night in Canberra [Maclaren scored a hattrick in a 5-0 win over Nepal in that fixture in October 2019] and a moment I’ll always remember. 

“I’m looking forward to it whether I’m going to be involved, in the grandstand, or watching on the TV, I can’t wait to watch the Socceroos on home soil.

Maclaren (right) scored 25 goals for Melbourne City during the 2020-21 A-League Men season, winning his third Golden Boot
Image Credit: Melbourne City

“What people need to understand is that quarantine [itself] is not the issue. It comes down to a little bit of mental health because you’re dealing with it again but, at the same time, it’s the conditioning. 

“The last thing you need leading into an A-League Men season or mid-season is to sit in a hotel for two weeks. Arnie understood that we were in pre-season and fit as anything and to lose that fitness sitting in a hotel would be a waste. 

“Now that there’s supposed to be no quarantine, if selected I’d love to go and represent the country again, be around the boys and coaching staff because it’s a great environment and one that’s positive about qualifying for the World Cup next year.”

Maclaren was speaking to JDL Media at the conclusion of a pre-season hitout between his City and Western United — just the second fixture the defending champions have been able to play in the lead into the 2021-22 campaign. At this stage, they are set to play another friendly against United and their FFA Cup Round of 32 fixture against South Melbourne prior to opening the A-League men season against Brisbane Roar on November 19. 

Fielding close to a first-choice XI, City’s strong press and continuity showed good signs against a much more in-flux United side across the opening 45 minutes of their friendly, with Nabbout sending in a cross that Leckie headed home to give the hosts a 1-0 lead heading into the sheds. 

Both sides swinging significant changes at the break, Nikolai Topor-Stanley nodded in a Dalibor Marković cross at the near post to tie things up early in the stanza to ensure the spoils would be shared. 

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
You’re seeing this advert because this is an unpaid, self-published piece.

You can support his ongoing work by buying him a coffee:

“You can’t really take games for granted when they come around because with all the restrictions and stuff we haven’t been able to play too many,” Maclaren said.

“Games are different to training and [he, Nabbout, and Leckie are] trying to work on the combinations and whatnot and I think that, even the goal today, we were all involved; Nabbout played a great ball and Lecks did what he does at the back post, wins a header and scores a goal. 

Melbourne City won a first Premiership and Championship in 2020-21
Image Credit: Melbourne City

“It’s one of those ones, I’ve got players around me now that will notch up a lot of goals and defences, if they want to put their eyes on me, you’ve got guys like Lecks that have that eye for goal as well. We’re going to be dangerous but we’ve also got to work hard and work on those combinations to really improve and get to the levels that [coach Patrick Kisnorbo] wants. 

“If they steal goals off me and we end up with another trophy I’d be very happy. Of course, you want to be in the hunt for a golden boot and I always know that if I’m scoring goals then my team’s doing well but I’m not going into this season thinking of golden boots — I’ve got them. 

“They’re not as good as championships and championships are won with eleven boys, plus the boys on the bench and the young boys that train with us to build us to those levels. 

“I think the young boys will keep us three on our toes and make sure our levels are really high to show them, when they enter the pitch, what levels are expected. 

“It’s going to be great, they’re going to score a lot of goals, as I will, and if they’re stealing goals off me it means it’s a great thing for us.”

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
You’re seeing this advert because this is an unpaid, self-published piece.

You can support his ongoing work by buying him a coffee:

Header Image Credit: Football Australia

One thought on “As borders re-open, Jamie Maclaren would “love” a Socceroo return

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s