Adelaide United striker Tomi Juric has a perfect chance to prove he’s worthy of a Socceroos recall on Sunday night when he goes head-to-head with Melbourne City goal-machine Jamie Maclaren.
Back in the A-League after five years of mixed fortunes in Europe, Juric is primed for a huge performance at Coopers Stadium, according to Adelaide coach Carl Veart.
Reigning A-League Golden Boot Maclaren will be equally as keen to impress after failing to score in City’s first-up 1-0 away win over Brisbane Roar last Tuesday night.
Juric, 29, has scored eight goals in 41 appearances for the Socceroos, but has not played for Australia since November 2018.
In that time Maclaren, 27, has jumped ahead of Juric in the national team pecking order. The former Hibernian forward has scored five goals in 15 appearances for Australia.
“You just have to look at Jamie’s record – he scores goals every year,” said Veart, himself a former Socceroos attacker.
“Him and Tomi are a little bit different as strikers. Jamie’s more of a player that goes in behind (the defenders), gets in the box a lot, while Tomi will want to link up play a bit more and get in the box as well, and has a bit more of a physical presence in the game.”
Veart said if both Maclaren and Juric were in form come March, they could combine in attack for Australia’s World Cup qualifiers, depending on the opposition.
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“Tomi just provides you that flexibility because he’s so good with both feet at holding the ball up, and if you could have someone that’s quick next to him, it would provide a huge threat,” he said.
Veart tipped Juric – who impressed during his 84 minutes on the park in Adelaide’s 0-0 draw with Western United last Monday night – to open his 2020-21 season goal-scoring account on Sunday.
“We’re looking forward to Tomi getting some goals (on Sunday) night. He’s had two weeks of training, he’s had the first game, that’s the longest he’s played for over a year, so he’s only going to be better for that,” Veart said.
City coach Patrick Kisnorbo was well aware of the threat Juric posed.
“We know that he’s a good player and a dangerous player,” Kisnorbo said.
“We all know his strengths. He hasn’t played a lot of football to date, but I’m sure as time goes on, he’ll keep improving.”
City will be without injured forward Andrew Nabbout (hamstring) and suspended midfielder Adrian Luna.
The A-League debut of Adelaide’s Spanish midfielder Javi Lopez has been delayed by a knee injury.
Veart said the injury was “nothing too major: and was confident Lopez would be fit for Adelaide’s clash with Perth Glory on January 16.
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