The Socceroos striking options have received a much-needed bolster in the form of returning bolter Mat Leckie.
The 27-year-old is the leading goalscorer, as well as one of the most experienced heads, in Graham Arnold's Socceroos squad but was sidelined from Australia's Asian Cup group stage matches with a hamstring injury.
The Socceroos' medical staff have cleared the winger-cum-makeshift striker to feature against Uzbekistan, adding the Hertha Berlin midfielder's familiarity in big tournaments to a young forward line.
“The wonderful thing is Mathew Leckie is back and he will be on the bench,” said Arnold. “It’s like signing a new player halfway through a tournament. We planned when he got injured at Hertha Berlin that we needed to look at how the injury would come along.
“We were patient with that and our medical staff have done a great job getting him ready. And that, with his positive attitude and how he is in camp and in around the boys, has given the boys a lift already.
“Josh Risdon is back again, so he will be back, and Trent Sainsbury is back from suspension. Andrew Nabbout is the only one out at this stage so we’re getting stronger and stronger as the tournament goes.”
He added: “We’re into the last 16, so it’s a step up in the competition and a step up in the tournament and I expect our team to step up another level as well.
“But we’ve analysed them and we expect to expose their weaknesses. They’ve had a three-day turnaround and we’ve had five so we’re mentally fresh and feel great and are ready to go for this game.”
The Socceroos started with Awer Mabil, Chris Ikonomidis and Jamie Maclaren against Syria, with Maclaren the oldest at just 24, having scored just one international goal.
For his part, Maclaren was insistent that Australia would have no problem scoring against Uzbekistan, with Leckie's possible inclusion little more than a bonus.
“We’ve seen a bit about Uzbekistan (and how they set up), but for us it’s just completely worrying about us, the way we attack, the way we defend,” Maclaren told socceroos.com.au
“I feel like the squad’s so confident, whether it’s from start to finish, we’re always creating chances, we’re always scoring goals.
“I think people were talking about how we wouldn’t create chances and score goals, but we’ve done that."