Jamie Maclaren didn’t know if he’d ever be picked for Australia again after turning down selection for the Socceroos’ past four matches.
Melbourne City ace Jamie Maclaren is relieved to have another opportunity with the Socceroos after gambling on his international career by opting out of Australia’s past four World Cup qualifiers.
Maclaren and fellow City attackers Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout have returned to the Socceroos’ fold for Thursday night’s clash against Saudi Arabia at Sydney’s CommBank Stadium and the battle on Wednesday week (AEDT) with China in Sharjah.
The trio missed the Socceroos’ September and October qualifiers against China, Vietnam, Oman and Japan – all on foreign soil – due to quarantine regulations that would have been forced on them on their return to Australia.
Maclaren, 28, recalled the agony of turning down the chance to represent his country.
“It was really, really tough … it really upset me,” the A-League’s reigning Golden Boot said.
“The decisions were almost taken out of your hands with the quarantine. Given the situation of going into pre-season with the A-League, when you do the two weeks (quarantine), you come out and your body wouldn’t be conditioned, and you risk injury.
“The other side of that is the mental side. You don’t want to sit in a room for 14 days knowing that your teammates at Melbourne City were working hard.
“Me, Andy (Nabbout) and ‘Lecks’ play for the same club, we talk daily about how much we miss it (the national team) and dissect the game.
“When we saw the fixture come out and that there was a game in NSW, we couldn’t wait.
“We just wanted to put ourselves in as right a position as possible to have a chance to be selected, and here we are. We look forward to Thursday now.”
Maclaren, who has scored six goals in 18 Socceroos appearances, will play Thursday night’s game – the Socceroos’ first on home soil since October, 2019 – as if it’s his last for Australia, so grateful is he to get another chance to wear the green and gold.
“Ever since I got my debut, I’ve never taken a cap for granted,” the former Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar, Darmstadt 98 (Germany) and Hibernian (Scotland) marksman said.
“Every time you put on that jersey, it could be your last. I’ve taken that mentality the last couple of years because you just never know.
“That’s why it was so hard for me not to come to the last two camps, because you just never know (what might happen).
“Playing for your country’s the greatest feeling ever. You get goosebumps whenever you talk about it, let alone experiencing it.
“I can’t wait until Thursday. I’ve always worked hard. I’m as hungry as ever. For me it’s an honour to be here.”
Originally published as Socceroos: Jamie Maclaren ready to deliver for Australia after agony of missing national duty