Socceroo striker Eli Babalj is banging down the door for a spot in Marco van Basten’s AZ Alkmaar first team after scoring a hat-trick in the reserves on Tuesday morning (AEST).
After scoring a brace last weekend, Babalj continued his superb form in front of goal with a treble as AZ came from 3-0 down to win 4-3 against Utrecht.
Babalj’s hat-trick came all in the second half, including the winner deep into stoppage time.
"A striker is judged on his goals. He is often in the right place,” AZ coach Reinier Robbemond said of Babalj.
The former Hyundai A-League striker has been in rich goal-scoring form for AZ’s reserves side and must be making a compelling case to van Basten for a call-up.
AZ are currently struggling in 14th spot in the Eredivisie
Babalj has endured a torrid run with injuries the last couple of seasons but appears to have his body right and it’s showing on the pitch.
The 22-year-old has played twice for the Socceroos, scoring twice in a match against Guam in 2012.
Meanwhile, Mathew Leckie says he’s still a few weeks away from his best despite his starring role for FC Ingolstadt on Sunday.
The Socceroos winger made a brilliant return from an abdominal injury, scoring once and providing an assist in his side’s 2-0 win over Greuther Furth in 2.Bundesliga.
“I'm a bit tired, but that's normal,” Leckie told the Ingolstadt website on Monday.
“Also, I’m very happy that I got plenty of game-time. I certainly was not 100 per cent fit, but I still found energy and my strong moments.
“Of course, I still need time until I can physically fully utilise my potential again – probably not for a few weeks, but I'm very optimistic.”
Leckie is part of Ange Postecoglou’s 20-man squad for next month’s friendlies against Belgium and Saudi Arabia in Europe.