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 By AAP

Jamie Maclaren earns surprise call-up to Australia's World Cup squad

The ESPN panel in London are skeptical of Australia ahead of the World Cup with Bert van Marwijk's defensive mindset and an aging squad.
Socceroos midfielder Jackson Irvine hails "leader" Tim Cahill as the veteran has been included in the preliminary Australia World Cup 2018 squad.

Jamie Maclaren is back in World Cup contention after receiving a shock Socceroos call-up as concerns grow about the fitness of fellow striker Tomi Juric.

Maclaren was a surprise omission from Bert van Marwijk's 26-man squad earlier this month, despite strong late-season form for his Scottish club Hibernian.

But the former Brisbane Roar star has joined the Australian team in camp in Turkey and now has the chance to put his selection case forward, with usual starter Juric in doubt due to a knee injury.

"Tomi Juric has had a knee issue over the last three weeks which is being monitored by our medical team," Van Marwijk said. "We hope that Tomi will be able to train and play this week, but his recovery might also take longer.

"That is why we have decided to bring in Jamie Maclaren now so that he also has a fair chance to display his qualities before the final 23 player squad must be announced."

The Socceroos have until June 4 to nominate their 23-man squad for the tournament in Russia.

It means Maclaren will have four days of training and one match -- Friday's friendly against the Czech Republic -- to prove his worth.

Maclaren, 24, has been on holiday since he was culled from Van Marwijk's extended squad two weeks ago.

On loan from German second-tier side Darmstadt, Maclaren scored a hat trick for Hibernian against Rangers in the final match of the Scottish Premiership season -- hours after finding out he had been dumped by the Socceroos.

Juric, meanwhile, hasn't played in more than a month and missed the last five matches of the season for his Swiss side FC Luzern because of injury.

His absence would be a significant blow for the team.

Juric has featured in each of Australia's past 11 matches, dating back to last year's Confederations Cup, and started on seven of those occasions.

The 26-year-old is also a vastly different striker to the smaller, more nimble Maclaren and if ruled out, it may force Van Marwijk into a major rethink as to how the Socceroos set up in the final third.

Juric has scored eight times in 34 appearances for Australia while Maclaren has played five times for the national team but is yet to score.

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