Croatia-based Fran Karacic has put his hand up for the Socceroos’ problematic right-back position, as Bert van Marwijk ponders handing the little-known youngster a shock FIFA World Cup call-up.
Despite representing Croatia’s Under-21s as recently as last month, the Lokomotiva Zagreb defender has followed the fortunes of the Socceroos for some time, and was on the radar for last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup until injury struck.
He has citizenship through his Australian-born father, and has racked up 53 appearances for Lokomotiva - sitting fifth in Croatia’s top tier - over the past three seasons.
Karacic, 21, was recommended to van Marwijk by Zagreb-based Socceroos assistant coach Ante Milicic, and he’s ready to ride the wave to Russia.
“I have heard they (Australia) are in need for good right-back, and I’d be honoured by a call-up,” Koracic told The World Game.
“I’m very pleased with my progress and my performance in games in my club over the past few years. I’ve made a lot of progress.
“I’m feeling very fortunate to be in consideration for Australia and (it) would be a really special thing for me if I was selected.
“I was in contact with them years ago before their appearance in the Confederations Cup (before injury ruled him out).
“I have had an Australian passport since I was little, and I’ve always had in my mind that I could be performing for Australia one day.”
Karacic, who has never set foot in Australia, has come into the picture as van Marwijk searches for a right-back he can pin his faith in, with Josh Risdon the latest to fill the role to mixed reviews during last month’s 0-0 draw with Colombia.
Renowned for his pace and energy, Zagreb-born Karacic plays for the same club side once home to Socceroos striker Tomi Juric, though the pair have yet to meet.
“Just like any other football player, of course it is my dream to make an appearance at the World Cup. Personally, it means a lot to me,” he added.
“If it could happen with Australia it would be huge for me. I know a lot about them and I have followed how they’ve gone at World Cups and also during the qualifying.”
Milos Degenek and Risdon were the preferred right-backs under Ange Postecoglou in qualifying, while Bailey Wright, Ryan McGowan and Mark Milligan have also filled the slot still very much up for grabs.
While influential for Croatia’s Under-21s, competition for senior spots is intense with Atletico Madrid right-back Sime Vrsaljko the current top choice.
Casting an eye on Australia’s prospects in Russia where they face France, Denmark and Peru in the group stage, Karacic added: “They have a tough group at the World Cup but in football anything is possible.
“They have good players and a top coach and they can qualify from the group, for sure.”