Australian coach Bert van Marwijk has admitted Jamie Maclaren forced his way into his World Cup plans after the on-loan Hibs striker made the most of his late call-up to the Socceroos training camp.
Maclaren made the dash from Dubai where he had been on holiday to join his international team-mates in Turkey after van Marwijk was hit by an injury scare to Swiss-based hitman Tomi Juric.
And, after making a second-half appearance as a substitute in a 4-0 demolition of the Czech Republic, Maclaren was told he’d be Russia-bound, surviving the cut as the Aussie squad was trimmed to 23 players.
MacLaren’s World Cup dream appeared over when he was excluded from Van Marwijk’s original squad despite having scored a hat-trick the day before as Hibs ended their season with an epic 5-5 draw against Rangers.
However, Juric’s knee injury presented the Dutch coach with a serious problem and, although the FC Luzern player has recovered sufficiently to make the squad, he revealed 24-year-old Maclaren had impressed during his week with the Socceroos in Antalya where they will continue to be based until after their final warm-up game against Hungary in Budapest this weekend.
Van Marwijk said: “Jamie came in and I’m satisfied about him. He’s a typical player who always gets a chance [to score]. It’s difficult for him because he was already on vacation for eight or nine days.
“I wanted to give him a real chance, a week. He had to train very hard from the first moment. We train very intensively and [often] two times a day. It was really difficult for him, not really fair for him.
“But he made a good impression. I think I need him.”