Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has praised Jamie Maclaren on his maiden international hat-trick but stopped short of naming him as his first-choice striker.
Arnold has been searching for goals in his first year as Australian coach and despite netting eight times in their past two matches, against minnows Kuwait and Nepal, he wants more.
Maclaren is locked in a battle for the No.9 jersey with Adam Taggart and Apostolos Giannou, and the Melbourne City man threw the marker down with three goals against Nepal in Canberra on Thursday.
"Jamie is great, his movement's fantastic," Arnold said.
"Sometimes playing teams that sit so deep like that maybe doesn't suit him as much as potentially a Taggart or Giannou, they like to play with their back to goal where Jamie doesn't but I'm really proud of the kid to score his first hat-trick for Australia.
"He's worked extremely hard. You could see by his energy for Melbourne City last Wednesday night against Brisbane in the FFA Cup that his confidence is sky high, so it was a no-brainer to start him."
But Arnold wouldn't confirm Maclaren had done enough to earn a start in their next Group B World Cup qualifier match against Taiwan away on Tuesday.
"We'll see. We've got Taggart. We've got Giannou. And the main reason (Taggart) didn't get involved tonight was around the fact that last Wednesday night he played 120 minutes in the FA Cup in South Korea," Arnold said.
"Then played another 90 minutes on Sunday and didn't arrive until Tuesday morning so he's a little bit tired.
"We've got those options and that's what we've been building over the last 12 months. Taggart is 100 per cent ready to go against Taiwan and so are another eight fresh players."
Australian Associated Press