Jamie Maclaren admits his Caltex Socceroos call-up for the upcoming FIFIA World Cup qualifier against Thailand came as a total shock after a slower than expected start to the season with Brisbane Roar.
The 23-year-old, who scored 20 goals last Hyundai A-League season, only got off the mark for the new campaign in Sunday’s 2-1 round 4 win over Perth Glory.
Maclaren was initially left out of Ange Postecoglou’s 30-man squad named last week but with legendTim Cahill rested, the speedy attacker has been called upon for the November 15 clash in Bangkok.
"I'm not going to lie - once you see the 30 you think, ‘OK my chances are probably for next March when the other games are’," Maclaren told reporters at Roar HQ on Thursday.
"I just put my head down and focused on Brisbane but it's come out the blue and it's something I'm really honoured to be a part of.
"I'm proud I can represent the country again and if I can build on that first cap I got, it will be amazing.
“I feel like it’s a good opportunity against Thailand, it’s a must win game and hopefully I can contribute.”
Maclaren made his one and only Caltex Socceroos appearance in the friendly against England at Sunderland's Stadium of Light in May.
But he’s hopeful of adding to that against Thailand in what is looming as a pivotal qualifier on the Road to Russia.
While Maclaren gets his chance due to Cahill’s absence, he doesn’t see his role as having to replace Australia’s greatest-ever goal-scorer.
“Timmy is a different sort of player than I am, he’s been there and done it. I'm kind of starting my journey,” the former Perth Glory striker added.
“I look up to a guy like him because he scored goals when Australia's needed him the most and hopefully, some day I'll get my first goal for the Socceroos.
“For now, I’m focusing on my club football. I’ve got another game on Friday night before I fly out and I’m just focusing on that.
"I've just got to keep doing my thing and if I can maybe net a goal on Friday night and go into the Socceroos camp with confidence."
Ironically, Maclaren’s Roar does battle with Cahill’s City in a Harvey Norman Friday night blockbuster at Suncorp Stadium.
Roar officials are hoping for a crowd of more than 20,000 with Cahill potentially involved in his first Hyundai A-League game in Brisbane, providing he’s passed fit to return from the injury which kept him out of last week’s win over Adelaide United.
John Aloisi’s side is currently fifth on seven points but can leapfrog second-placed City with a win.
“[Bruno] Fornaroli, he lit the league up last year and I couldn’t quite catch him [for the golden boot] but that’s the way it is,” Maclaren said when asked about City.
“They’ve got some brilliant players going forward, young Bruce Kamau is coming good and there midfield is great too, [Luke Brattan] is a quality player.
“And I like the boy [Michael] Jakobsen at the back. They are a very good side and we know they’ll be up for it.”