Red-hot Maclaren key to A-L derby battle

Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren is scoring for fun and poses a massive threat to Melbourne Victory in Saturday night's A-League derby.

JAMIE MACLAREN of the Roar.
JAMIE MACLAREN of the Roar. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Prolific Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren has Melbourne Victory on edge ahead of a derby clash that could have a huge say in both clubs' A-League fortunes this season.

Victory's position as Melbourne's dominant soccer force has been challenged in recent times, with a spate of injuries playing a role in the club's dramatic fall from grace this season.

The four-time champions are under the pump, sitting in unfamiliar territory at the foot of the table and suffering a heartbreaking last-gasp defeat to Western United last time out.

Conversely, last season's runners-up City have struck form, with successive wins keeping them in touch with the top four.

Socceroos striker Maclaren has been at the forefront of City's charge, scoring four goals in his last two outings to take his season's tally to seven in eight starts.

Victory coach Grant Brebner sat helpless last week as Western United's Besart Berisha scored twice in a 4-3 win over his side, and said Maclaren will pose a similar threat at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.

"It's tough ... when you think you're on top of them, that's when you're at your most vulnerable," Brebner said.

"In many ways - you might laugh at what I'm saying - it becomes easier when you know you've got a tough opponent, an opponent that can embarrass you, and while maybe they're not involved in the game they can come alive very quickly in the box.

"We've spoken about it, we've come up against Jamie before and we know what qualities he has."

Maclaren has formed a dangerous partnership with English winger Craig Noone and fellow Socceroos attacker Andrew Nabbout, who has shone in two games back from a serious hamstring injury.

"Once you get a few goals you get the confidence, and you just roll on," Maclaren said.

"It's nice to have games with a bit of fluidity now and it's been nice to score goals in a few games, but as a striker you can always score more.

"I'll try to hit the back of the net this weekend and believe in myself and the boys behind me."

Vicory captain Leigh Broxham has been cleared to play despite battling an apparent abdominal complaint last week, while Marco Rojas (ankle) will spend another week on the sidelines.

City will give key import Florin Berenguer every chance to prove his fitness after hurting an ankle before Tuesday's 2-0 win at Western Sydney.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Melbourne City are chasing successive wins over Melbourne Victory for the first time in A-League history after a 2-1 triumph when the teams last met (February 2020).

* Jamie Maclaren has been directly involved in nine goals this season - scoring seven and two assists - more than any other player.

* Melbourne Victory are on the verge of losing three consecutive matches at Marvel Stadium - their second home - for the first time.