Robbie Kruse, who will be in Australia's squad for the international against Scotland next week, is on the brink of breaking into Fortuna Dusseldorf's starting line-up for the new Bundesliga season.
The 23-year-old forward, cursed by injuries in his debut season in Germany, has had a strong pre-season and has been told by coach Norbert Meier he is in the mix as promoted Fortuna approaches its opener against FC Augsburg later this month.
Before that, Kruse will feature for Australia in a clash with Scotland in Edinburgh on 16 August (5am AEST) as he gears up for what he hopes will be a breakthrough year at a club most are tipping to struggle in its return to the top flight.
"The trainer (Meier) has spoken with me and is happy with me. I've never felt fitter and sharper going into a season," Kruse, who scored the sole goal in a 1-0 pre-season win over NEC Nijmegen last month, told The World Game.
"Hopefully, I am really pushing hard now and will be in that starting team for the first game of the season.
"I've started most of our pre-season games and have been playing in various positions across the front line and also behind the strikers in a No.10-type role, so it's been great experience for me.
"It's something different and I feel we can hold our own in the Bundesliga this season, although a lot of people will expect us to fail.
"We don't have a big budget and it's going to be a challenging season ahead but also an exciting one."
Some sceptics also expect Kruse to fail in his German adventure.
"Last season wasn't great for me and I know a lot of people have doubted whether I can make it over here but I've done well in pre-season and I know I am close now," he added.
"There will be a lot of chances to play this year and I'll just have to take them when they come along. I see this as the next big step in my career."
Next up for Kruse, who was limited to seven appearances last season, is a friendly against Benfica in Lisbon in the lead-up to the Socceroos meeting with the Scots at Easter Road.
"I made sure to have only a short break this (northern) summer and have worked extra hard in training," Kruse said.
"Last season wasn't the best for me and I am determined to put that behind me now and show I am good enough to do well in the Bundesliga.
"We know it's going to be a tough season and fitness is going to be the key for us to be able to complete with the top teams and get the points we need to survive."
Kruse, who has 11 Australia caps, knows he is well placed to catch the eye of Holger Osieck in the Socceroos' coach's native Germany.
"I know Holger takes a lot of notice of the Bundesliga and in that sense being here is a plus," he said.
"If I can really get myself going this year then I'd like to think it would also be good for me with the national team.
"I had discussions with the club over the Scotland game and there are no issues. I am raring to go."
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck believes veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has a key role to play in their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.