The target man has missed Australia’s last two World Cup qualifiers - the largely toothless draws against Saudi Arabia and China - his absence keenly felt at the pointy end where his presence as both finisher and creator was sorely missed.

Though in the midst of a mini-goal drought himself before suffering a torn meniscus playing for his J1 club Cerezo Osaka six weeks back, Taggart’s calmness on the ball, robust physicality and ability to hold possession and bring teammates into play made him close to indispensable for Arnold.

Back in his hometown of Perth to continue his rehab under the watchful eyes of Socceroos fitness staff headed by conditioning guru Andrew Clark, Taggart, 28, declared the operation a success and a January return to action a realistic target.

“I’m looking to make myself available in January - it just depends what Arnie is thinking. But I’ll be as ready as I can be,” said Taggart, who sustained the injury soon after scoring his first J1 goal for Cerezo against Nagoya at the end of October.

“I’d have had a couple of weeks of pre-season (before the next qualifier against Vietnam in Melbourne on January 27).

“I’m starting to get going now and by then I should be fairly fit. Whatever happens I’ll be ready for it.”

With Australia now relegated to third in Group A with four games left - a point behind Japan and five adrift of the Green Falcons - an automatic qualifying spot for Qatar 2022 is in grave jeopardy.

“We have two massive games coming up (against Vietnam and away to Oman five days later),”  Taggart told FTBL.

“I want to be a part of it is this group of Socceroos are special.

“Apart from this camp just gone I’ve been heavily involved and any game means a lot to me especially these big ones coming up.”

Taggart, with six goals in 15 appearances for Australia, believes Australia can clamber from their current predicament and still pip Japan for the second qualifying spot, with the top two still to meet and 12 points still up for grabs.

He acknowledged that in addition to his the absence, being stripped of orchestrators Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy for the last two games - plus the devastating ACL suffered by defender Harry Souttar - has dealt a hammer blow to Arnold.

“These players are massive for us and you’re always going to miss them,” he said.

“We had that great run of 11 successive wins, whether it was doing it ugly or nice, and we’ve lost that little bit over the past couple of matches.

“But I’ve got all the confidence in the world we will bounce back. Arnie has an unbelievable mentality and he instils that in everyone.

“For me, he’s an unbelievable gaffer. Yes we’ve had a rough couple of games but everybody loves him and have the upmost respect for him.

“He always gives us a clear game plan we just have to carry it out.

“It’s always hard in camp when you have so little time to prepare - but that's no excuse. We just need to concentrate on performing well.

“There are huge matches coming up also against Japan at home and Saudi away (in March) but that’s what you want as a footballer.

“As difficult as it is there are opportunities for special moments to be had.

“We’ve had some difficult results but we have keep a strong mentality and make sure we win at all costs.

“There are still plenty of chances to make sure we finish in the top two. We just need to focus on winning the last four games. The ball is still in our court.

“Of course there’s pressure because the whole country is watching. It means a lot to everyone.”