Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Hibs striker Maclaren axed from Australia squad

Hibs striker Maclaren axed from Australia squad

But one of Australia's few in-form frontmen, Jamie Maclaren, who scored a hat-trick for Scottish Premier League club Hibernian in the fantastic 5-5 draw with Glasgow Rangers at the weekend, has missed the cut as Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk trimmed his preliminary squad of 32 players down to 26 amonth out from the start of Australia's World Cup campaign.

Among the players cut by Van Marwijk, who took on the Socceroos coaching job for the World Cup after Ange Postecoglou quit following the qualifying campaign, were 24-year-old striker Jamie Maclaren and defender Bailey Wright, who played in 12 of the 22 qualifying games.

Though Cahill's record speaks for itself, he has only been a bit player for Millwall since returning to south London in January. Van Marwijk has declined to guarantee him a spot in his final 23 for Russian Federation but a promotional campaign pushed by the Socceroos' naming rights sponsor, Caltex Australia, suggested it was a done deal. In it, five gas stations will be rebranded as Cahilltex during May and June.

FFA chief David Gallop denied there was any commercial rationale behind Cahill seemingly certain to play a fourth World Cup.

"It is always a challenging task to reduce a squad, however this is the nature of professional sport at the highest level", van Marwijk said in a statement.

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"I don't feel any player has a given right - regardless of what you've done in your past - to think they've got that seat on the plane to Russian Federation".

"He's a guy who has just produced for Australian football, for the Socceroos, so many times".

Cahill's goal against Chile in the opening game of their World Cup in Rio saw him become one of a small group of players who had scored at tournaments in 2006, 2010 and 2014. Melbourne City's teenage attacking midfielder Daniel Arzani and Croatia-based defender Fran Karacic, the surprise pair in Van Marwijk's initial squad, were retained in the 26.

Australia face France, Denmark and Peru in Group C at the June 14-July 15 finals.

The squad will need to be cut again to 23 by June 4 to finalise the group that will go to Russian Federation.

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