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Smothering Maclaren top job for Wanderers

Smothering the A-League's top striker Jamie Maclaren will be priority number one for Western Sydney Wanderers when they take on Melbourne City on Friday night.

The Socceroos star has scored seven goals in three games for Melbourne this season, including three against Brisbane Roar last weekend.

According to Wanderers coach Markus Babbel, there is no more important job than to limit Maclaren's space in the box in Friday's match at Bankwest Stadium.

"The funny thing is he's just smart, he's not a player who will beat just three, four or five players with the ball. He's doing fantastic forward runs," Babbel said.

"In the box, if you give him the space, he's taking the space.

"If we're not close enough with him then we'll have a problem because he's a striker, he can score goals and he's just looking for a little bit of space and if we're not close enough, he'll hurt you."

Friday's clash between top of the table City and third-placed Wanderers will be a shot at redemption for both teams who are bouncing back from last-match losses.

Wanderers are coming off a bye following their 2-1 loss to Western United and skipper Mitchell Duke returns to the squad after playing for the Socceroos in Jordan.

Marquee striker Alexander Meier is a chance to play through a back issue and despite scoring just one goal in his first month with the Wanderers, is drawing praise from Babbel.

"This is the mistake many people are doing, they only see the goals," Babbel said.

"If you see his work rate against the ball, especially now the last couple of games when we're not playing our best style of football.

"This is important for me. He's not only a team player, he's not only looking for himself.

"Of course I wish he could score more goals for us but also if it's not going in the right way I want to see players fighting for the result."