Aussies Abroad: Maclaren knocking on the door

Australian striker Jamie Maclaren is making quite the impression at English Premier League outfit Blackburn Rovers.

Australian striker Jamie Maclaren is making quite the impression at English Premier League outfit Blackburn Rovers.

The 18-year-old signed for the club in 2009 and has been a consistent scorer for Blackburn's academy over the past three seasons, which have also included several reserve team appearances.

And the highly rated youth prospect is clearly enjoying his time in Lancashire.

"My time at Blackburn has been quality," Maclaren said.

"I've been to Thailand on one of the pre-season tours and I've played against a lot of experienced guys who have played a lot of games in the Premier League.

"I have scored a lot of goals. It has been a good time for me. I've been progressing with the reserves and training with the first team recently."

The Melbourne-born forward, who spent time at Sunbury United, Green Gully and the Victorian Institute of Sport before making the switch to England, only needed two trial matches to prove to Blackburn that he was worth signing up.

"I spent two weeks in Blackburn on trial," he said.

"At the time I was a 15-year-old so I played with the Under-16's in my first trial game. The quality was good and we played Derby County. I scored two goals and we won 3-1."

"My second trial match was against Manchester United Under-16's and I scored a hat-trick in that game. We won 6-2 and after that Blackburn told me they wanted to take me on."

Maclaren - who was the top-scorer for Blackburn's academy side last term, is keen to experience some first team football and is eyeing off a potential loan move next season.

"We don't know what's going to happen next season...whether we are going to be a Premier League club or a Championship club."

"Next season, it's likely that a player like me who is only 18 will be looking to go on loan. The Championship, League 1, League 2...anywhere to play first team football is a great thing. Even if I went to Scotland, it's always good.

"Everyone has done it. Jason Roberts, David Dunn (teammates of Jamie's in his time at Blackburn), they have all gone to clubs on loan to gain that experience. And there's no reason why I wouldn't next season."

Maclaren has only the highest praise for Roberts, who took the youngster under his wing at the club before he left for Reading.

And fellow Australians Brett Emerton and Vince Grella have also helped out the forward.

"The older players here have given me lots of advice. As a youngster they always want to give you hints and tips which is great."

"Emmo was here and Vince....they both looked after me well. Vince is still here and we get along very well."

Blackburn has not been an easy environment for young players to break through this season, with the constant protests from fans against owners Venky's and manager Steve Kean ongoing.

And Maclaren feels the negativity directed towards Kean has been unfair and disrupting.

"It's not good for the manager to get all that stick from the fans. We've come out to training before and you've got the fans on the outside of the fence with banners saying 'Steve Kean out' and all this sort of stuff. It's not nice."

"The players don't want to go out to Ewood Park in front of 25,000 booing fans. That's not going to help their confidence."

"I think he (Kean) is a good, determined and strong-minded manager. He took the job when he didn't really have to. He has done an exceptional job taking all the stick off the fans. He introduced the likes of Phil Jones, who is at Manchester United now."

Jones, who moved to the Premier League giants for a reported fee of 17 million pounds in June 2011, sat next to Maclaren in the dressing room and is a constant source of ambition for the Aussie.

"Last season I was playing with Phil Jones who captained us in the reserves against Manchester City. We beat them 3-1 that day and he is someone that in my eyes is going to be the next England captain."

"He is someone who I can sit back and say 'wow, I've played with that fella'.

He is a down-to-earth guy and has not changed since he went to Manchester United. He is a local boy from Blackburn and a top guy."

Maclaren represented Scotland, the country of his father's birth, at under-19 level in May 2011.

He then pulled on the green and gold in November at the 2012 AFC Under-19 Championship qualifiers, bagging four goals in three matches in Malaysia.

After being rested for the 12-0 rout of Macau, Maclaren scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Indonesia before netting the opener in a 3-0 triumph over China that saw Australia end the qualifiers with maximum points from their four qualifiers.

And Maclaren, who will be a key part of the Aussie squad for the tournament proper in November, says his loyalties lie with Australia.

"Before I went to Malaysia, I had not received any recognition from an Australian team. Scotland came in and that was the first time I had been called up by an international team. Scotland is the birth place of my father and Steve Kean (who is Scottish) was full of praise for it."

"Obviously Vince Grella and Brett Emerton weren't happy but they said go and enjoy yourself. I had a good couple of games for them (Scotland)."

"But Malaysia was good...we have a quality team. I'm going to stick with Australia. I'm 100 per cent Australian and it was great."