André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
A hat-trick inside 19 minutes from exiled Jamaica international Marlon King has left one manager fuming, another elated, and yet another looking on from a distance with sheepish interest.
King, who has not been called up to the Jamaica squad since his two-match ban for allegedly breaking a curfew while on national duty in Panama in early June, powered a sensational comeback by his English Championship team Birmingham against Millwall on Tuesday.
With his team trailing 0-3, King struck in both halves, rescuing a point in a 3-3 draw to keep his under-fire manager Lee Clarke in a job for a while longer.
King has been one of the few positives for Birmingham this season, as the promotion-favourites struggle to find their form, languishing in 20th position in the 24-team competition.
A reprieve it may have been for Clarke, but the Jamaican's heroics left Millwall manager Kenny Jackett in a rage as he lamented his team's capitulation at the hands of the smooth-finishing King.
"It was a great shame, because it covered up some of the best attacking plays this season," said Jackett.
"We finished well, but people don't need too many shots to score," he added. "We have to change that."
Another manager, who may have taken keen notice of King's form, is head coach of Jamaica's national senior team, Theodore Whitmore, who has come under fire from members of the public for the striker's continued omission from the squad, despite his already serving his ban for his reported indiscretion in Panama.
King, who has scored 12 goals in his 21 appearances for the Reggae Boyz, seems by far the country's best option in attack, with real finishing quality.
Despite his position as Jamaica's leading goal-getter at the international level, Turkish-based Luton Shelton has never been regarded as a good finisher, with a less-than-impressive conversion rate, while Ryan Johnson, Omar Cummings, Dane Richards and Darren Mattocks have only scored 25 goals between them at the international level.
Of the six teams that have advanced to CONCACAF's final round of World Cup Qualifying, only Panama with six goals have scored less than Jamaica (nine).
This is something that Whitmore will be keen to address and, with King showing that he still knows how to find the back of the net, it may be hard for Whitmore and the technical staff to continue ignoring the Birmingham striker for the decisive round of qualifying.