Maclaren ready to fire Perth to glory

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Over the past couple of years the Hyundai A-League has become a breeding ground for some exciting Australian talent, so much so that youngsters from across the globe are returning to these shores to ply their trade.

 
One such player is 20 year old Jamie Mclaren who, after four years working his way up the ladder at Blackburn Rovers, has joined the Alistair Edwards revolution at Perth Glory.

The striker inked a three-year deal with the club and has an excellent pedigree with underage international honours to go alongside his football education in England.

With Glory’s main marksman in recent seasons, Shane Smeltz, currently on the sidelines after an offseason hip operation, Maclaren is ready to fill the very big boots left by the Kiwi having done so in preseason.

“We’ve been to South Africa and Malaysia, they’ve been good trips,” says the Melbourne native.

“We’ve played a lot of games and Alistair has played me in the number nine role and I’ve started nearly every single game. I’ve started to find form, starting to score goals, and it’s four in four at the moment so yeah, it’s been a good preseason.”

Maclaren added a further two goals to his impressive preseason tally as Glory beat Sydney FC 3-0 in their final warm up game.

While more at home playing just off the main forward, Maclaren is more than happy to lead the line for the team and is eager to score goals, setting himself a personal target of hitting at least double figures if he can steer clear of injuries.

This will be his first extended run in a senior first team having excelled in Blackburn’s academy and he is relishing the challenge.

“It’s a big step for me,” he says.

“Being in a reserve team at a big club like Blackburn, it’s hard to break into a first team like that but coming here I’m a first team player, you’re getting treated like a first team player.

“It also gives you confidence around experienced pros like Burnsy [Jacob Burns] and Stevie McGarry and players like that, Michael Thwaite is a Socceroo…it’s good for my confidence and I’m enjoying it.”

Much has been made of Alistair Edwards since he took the reins from Ian Ferguson, first on a temporary basis and then permanently in March, and Maclaren revealed just how big a role the manager played in getting him to Western Australia.

“Alistair played a massive part I think,” he says.

“I had a chance to go to other A-League clubs, even stay in the UK, but Alistair put faith in me and said ‘I’m going to give you a chance and let you do what you can do’ so yeah, Alistair I’d say was basically 80% of my decision to join Perth.”

Glory have a healthy mix of youth and experience with the likes of Smeltz, Burns, McGarry, Steve Pantelidis and Danny Vukovic acting as mentors for a crop of promising talent that includes Danny De Silva, Ryan and Cameron Edwards, Brandon O’Neill, Jack Clisby and Jack Duncan.

“We have one of the best dressing rooms, the best dressing room I’ve ever had,” says Maclaren.

“The banter’s there; even the older boys giving it to the young ones and the young ones giving it to the older ones, it’s good. They give you experience and they help you, I think it’s a very good mix.”

Maclaren has represented Australia at international level, scoring with an excellent first time finish against Turkey at the Under 20 World Cup in June, but while he harbours ambitions of playing for the senior side he is happy getting his club form in order first.

“Every kid wants to be a Socceroo,” he says.

“At the moment that’s not my first priority but if I do well for Glory and score goals then that will take care of itself. I’d obviously love to play for and also be a Socceroo.

“I think I just want to get this first A-League season out of the way, see how well I do, and then we’ll just take it from there.”

There is a fresh look to Glory this season with Macron having come on board as the club’s official kit supplier and Maclaren spoke enthusiastically about the new playing gear.

“We love the shirt,” he says.

“We think the white is a lot nicer because it’s cleaner and it’s a Real Madrid look that’s fresh, but purple’s different.

“Not many teams wear purple in the world so it’s a clean shirt, I like the stripes, all the boys have taken a liking to it and it’s a nice fit.”

If Glory can play anything like Madrid then they will no doubt challenge once again come the business end of the season, and Maclaren is keen to be a big part of that.

“We’ll keep the ball, we’ll be patient and we’ll create a lot of chances,” he says.

“And hopefully if they fall to me I’ll put them in the back of the net.”

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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