The Socceroos duo that deserved a shot in Russia

A particularly tough tournament to take for two quality players

Australia can count themselves somewhat unlucky after ending their World Cup bottom of Group C, but Jamie Maclaren and Massimo Luongo in particular can feel aggrieved at their complete lack of minutes in Russia

Jamie Maclaren wasn't initially included in Bert van Marwijk's 23-man squad but was brought back in as a result of an injury to Tomi Juric.

Cutting short his holiday and bringing with him some fine club form, Maclaren didn't see any action at the World Cup with Andrew Nabbout, Tomi Juric and Tim Cahill all preferred ahead of him.

With Nabbout clearly suiting van Marwijk's game plan through a tireless press, Maclaren would have brought those same qualities off the bench but instead Juric and Cahill were turned to.

While Cahill's inevitable appearance against Denmark had to happen in many respects, the decision to start Juric over Maclaren failed to bear fruit.

Likely looking to use Juric's height, the Socceroos simply couldn't capitalise on his hold-up play with few players willing to take charge in front of goal.

Maclaren on the other hand would have seized the initiative, making sneaky runs in behind defenders and backing himself against a Peruvian back line that was far from infallible.

From his 15 league appearances for Hibernian last season, Maclaren found the back of the net eight times - one more than what Juric achieved across 27 games with Luzern. 

Looking forward, Maclaren deserves his chance to shine for the Socceroos with Juric simply failing to make the position his own over the past few years.

Jamie Maclaren Socceroos

While Maclaren was somewhat lucky to be in Russia, Luongo wasn't and quite rightly confident of securing plenty of minutes.

After a stellar season with QPR which saw him voted the club's player of the year, the midfielder was even able to get a few weeks off as he looked to ensure he was primed for Russia.

While facing some stiff opposition in Australia's midfield, Luongo showed exactly what he can bring to the side against an admittedly pretty poor Czech Republic but also against Colombia back in March.

It's an impact few fans should have forgotten about either with the 25-year-old voted the most valuable player of the Asian Cup back in 2015 when the Socceroos claimed the title.

Yet three years on and Luongo will leave Russia without single World Cup minute to his name. 

Though Australia's midfield performed admirably, we can now only imagine what Luongo may have brought to it.

A better finisher than Aaron Mooy and Mile Jedinak, he surely would've posed more of a threat from one of those holding midfield positions. 

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Massimo LuongoAgainst Peru, Jedinak remained on the pitch despite collecting an early yellow - not only an unnecessary risk but one that failed to provide the spark Luongo could have.

As one of Australia's best players, it's incredible to believe Luongo is yet to represent the Socceroos on the biggest stage and it's an anomaly he'll be even more desperate to rectify in four years time. 

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