‘I need him’: The Roos squad puzzle that saved Maclaren
BERT van Marwijk has lamented the toughest day of his Socceroos tenure after showing four players the door ahead of the World Cup.
While granting 23 players a place on sport's biggest stage, the Dutchman also had to tell James Troisi, Fran Karacic, Nikita Rukavytsya and Josh Brillante they would not be travelling to Russia.
The stony-faced 66-year-old is not one to show his emotions easily but looked genuinely affected after undertaking one of the toughest tasks of the job. "They are always the most hard decisions," he said.
"I've had the experiences a few times. I told them a few weeks (ago) as we started that this moment would come.
"We have to think as a professional (but) it's always an emotional day for everybody." Van Marwijk told the axed quadruplet personally, who all left the Socceroos' hot-weather training camp within hours, but delivered the good news to the other 23 by text.
And with the task out of the way, he's now looking forward to using the different weapons at his disposal.
The selection of both Daniel Arzani and Jamie Maclaren means more than half the Socceroos squad can operate in the front four positions.
They can thank their selection on the emergence of Josh Risdon. So impressed was van Marwijk by the right-back's progression, he did not need to consider another full-back in his squad, freeing up a role for an extra attacker.
"Defending I think we have enough players. Very positive is the development of Joshua Risdon ... I have enough central defenders and defending midfield players the same," he said.
"Now I have more options in front with several types of central forwards, number nines." One of those is Maclaren.
The 24-year-old was originally axed by van Marwijk from his 32-man squad, only to earn a reprieve due to concerns over Tomi Juric's knee.
He joins Juric, Tim Cahill and bolter Andrew Nabbout as striking options, with van Marwijk so impressed with the ex-Brisbane forward that he couldn't let him down a second time.
"He made a good impression. I think I need him," van Marwijk said. "It was difficult for him because he was already on vacation for I think eight or nine days.
"I wanted to give him a real chance." Jackson Irvine sat out much of training with a hamstring issue from the match against Czech Republic but is expected to train on Monday.
The Socceroos depart Turkey on Thursday for a friendly against Hungary in Budapest on Saturday.