Football 2 years ago

Socceroo Maclaren keen for England return

  • Socceroo Maclaren keen for England return

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 24: Jamie Maclaren of the Roar looks dejected after losing the A-League Semi Final match in extra time between the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Brisbane Roar at Pirtek Stadium on April 24, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Soon-to-be Socceroo Jamie Maclaren is relishing a return to England and a possible international debut at the Stadium of Light in front of family, friends and ex-teammates later this month.

Maclaren, who scored 20 goals for Brisbane Roar in the most recent A-League season to emerge as the competition's best Australian striker, has been included in a 23-man Australia squad for their friendly against England on May 27 in Sunderland.

It is a dream come true in more ways than one for the 22-year-old, who began his professional career as a youth player with Blackburn Rovers back in 2009.

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But in four-and-a-half years at Blackburn, he was never able to crack the first team - the biggest match Maclaren says he ever played in was an under-21s final against Chelsea, at an empty Stamford Bridge.

Now, a sold-out 49,000-strong crowd beckons for what Maclaren hopes will be the start of a long career in green and gold - and there will be plenty of familiar faces among them, including his uncle Ross, who once captained Shrewsbury Town.

"It's a country I'm familiar with and has given me half of my development in my young career," Maclaren told AAP.

"I'm not quite sure if Phil Jones is going to be in the England squad, but I played with him at Blackburn.

"I watch Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, all these boys week in, week out.

"Honestly, even if I'm just on the bench just watching it - to be involved, however it is, it's going to be crazy."

It is deserved recognition for Maclaren, who was a consistent threat throughout his first season with the Roar.

His chances of a start against England are reasonably high, given China-based Tim Cahill and Apostolos Giannou were unavailable for selection and the other striker in the squad, Tomi Juric, has only just returned to full fitness.

Maclaren has also been assured of a place in the squad to be announced next week for June's two-match series against Greece.

"It's proof that hard work actually pays off," Maclaren said.

Coach Ange Postecoglou has been monitoring Maclaren for some time and said he was excited to see how he handles the step up.

"I don't think he finished the season great, I don't think Brisbane did," Postecoglou said.

"But in the finals series I thought he really stood up and I thought that was a good measure of where he's at.

"We'll see if he can take the opportunity in front of him."

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