Football 3 years ago

Roar hero Maclaren wasn't meant to start

  • Roar hero Maclaren wasn't meant to start

Coach John Aloisi has revealed he hadn't planned to start Jamie Maclaren in Brisbane's A-League opener, only calling up his new striker the day before he starred in the Roar's 3-1 thrashing of the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Maclaren was battling to get over a knee injury sustained playing for the Olyroos, leaving the ex-Perth Glory marksman on the selection outer for his side's trip to Sydney's Pirtek Stadium.

The 22-year-old ended up netting a brace to steer the Roar to victory and kiss their volatile off-season goodbye.

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"Jamie Maclaren was touch and go to start tonight because he got injured when he went away with the Olyroos," Aloisi said.

"He only really started training fully just over a week ago ... but Jamie was looking that sharp in training I had no choice but to start him.

"I said that to him yesterday, I said 'Jamie, I wasn't going to start you, but with how sharp you're looking I'm going to let you go out there and do as well as you can for as long as you can'.

"Lucky I made that decision because he was excellent. Not only his goals, just his workrate, his runs that he made."

It's been difficult not to compare Maclaren to former Roar ace Besart Berisha, especially given the centre-forward's nine goals from 20 games for the Glory last season, despite only starting seven.

But Aloisi is adamant he won't be putting pressure on his young charge to emulate Berisha, who tallied 15 goals in his first season with champions Melbourne Victory.

"He's not a Besart Berisha," Aloisi said.

"He doesn't need to be - he's Jamie Maclaren.

"He's an intelligent footballer, and he'll get better as well because he's still only 22."

Brisbane's diligence against the Wanderers was fruitful despite the unavailability of more than a quarter of the team due to injuries - and with stalwart Matt McKay away in Jordan for the Socceroos' World Cup qualifier.

Spanish signing Corona also proved a smart replacement for departed holding midfielder Luke Brattan.

A relieved Aloisi praised his charges' efforts, in what was the 39-year-old's first A-League match with the clipboard since the then rookie coach was sacked a season and a half ago by Melbourne Heart.

But he also identified room for improvement.

"We struggled a little bit in the first half I thought in the defensive sense," he said.

"Not so much when we were pressing high or in the middle of the park, it was more a little bit deeper.

"Mitch Nichols was causing us issues, he was getting into good areas in between the lines.

"But in the second half we were a lot more solid."

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