The ALM Golden Boot winner taking ownership, with eyes on the World Cup

The rollercoaster build-up to Jamie Maclaren’s 2018 World Cup is still raw as the Socceroos striker prepares to shoulder a bigger load in Qatar this year.

The goal-hungry Melbourne City talent and reigning A-League Men Golden Boot winner, playing for Scottish club Hibernian at the time, was initially cut from Bert van Marwijk’s 26-man squad for the previous World Cup in Russia four years ago.

But an injury to Tomi Juric opened the door for a second chance and he edged his way into the final 23.

Four years on and Maclaren, who should enjoy minutes in warm-up games against New Zealand in Brisbane on Thursday and Auckland on Sunday, is far more central to the Socceroos’ plans.

“It’s still raw; it’s a long time ago but I remember the phone call, being cut, then finding out you’re back in and almost on trial drove the hunger,” he told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.

“I got picked in the end and they were feelings you can’t explain.

“To say you’ve been to one (World Cup) is great but I’ve felt more involved in this campaign and want to kick on.”

Maclaren has scored seven goals in 10 World Cup qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022, after going goalless in seven qualifiers for 2018.

A nerveless penalty in Australia’s shoot-out win over Peru in a dramatic play-off also underlined his standing under head coach Graham Arnold, who will need goalscorers in Qatar after Mile Jedinak (two penalties) was the only Socceroo to find the net in Russia.

“I feel more involved and Arnie’s put his faith in me; he’s always said if you score goals you’ll be in my team,” Maclaren said.

It’s been four games since Maclaren’s last goal in regulation time for the Socceroos though, and he knows new additions like Jason Cummings and Garang Kuol will have chances to mount their case in the next week.

Arnold is expected to field two entirely different teams in the two games to offer as many fresh faces as possible a platform to push for a spot in the final squad.

There are also others like Tom Rogic and Daniel Arzani set to display their credentials in club games from outside this extended squad.

“I remember being in that situation on the fringes, getting called in and these boys have earned that (opportunity),” Maclaren said.

“You want to be challenged and I know what I have to do.”

The man most likely tasked with keeping Maclaren quiet this week, Winston Reid, has announced the pair of trans-Tasman clashes will be his last in an All Whites shirt.

Reid, 34, who scored at the 2010 World Cup for New Zealand, says he’s pleased to end his international career in his home town.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have a long career, for both club and country, and captaining the national team has been an honour,” the former West Ham centre-back said.