Babalj brace builds case for Alkmaar first-team

Forgotten Australian striker Eli Babalj has pressed his case for a first-team opportunity with AZ Alkmaar after netting a double for their reserves side on Monday night.

The two-time Socceroo scored his side’s opening two goals either side of half-time in Jong AZ’s 5-2 thrashing of Jong Fortuna Sittard, which had Australian Andrew Marveggio also net a brace.

Babalj endured an injury-cursed first campaign in the Netherlands last term, with hernia and groin problems, but returned to fitness in pre-season.

The former Melbourne Heart man featured in a number of pre-season matches but has been overlooked by AZ boss Marco van Basten for their first two Eredivisie fixtures.

AZ have so far won 3-0 away to Heracles and lost 3-1 at home to Ajax on the weekend.

Babalj’s side are next in action away to 17th-placed Willem II on Saturday.

The 22-year-old’s last cap for Australia came back in December 2012 when he netted a double against Guam.