JETS newcomer Ivan Vujica has wasted no time making himself at home in the A-League.
After a 19-minute cameo as substitute on debut in last week’s draw against Adelaide, he is expected to start at left back in Sunday’s clash with Brisbane at McDonald Jones Stadium.
“It was absolutely unreal,’’ he said. “Words couldn’t describe it … I couldn’t believe it. To step out on the field and feel what it was like and hear the fans was amazing.
“I want to be out there all the time now.’’
Injuries to Daniel Mullen (knee) and Jason Hoffman (calf) have created an opportunity for the 19-year-old, who has returned to Australia after five years of playing in Dynamo Zagreb’s youth system.
“I was born in Sydney and lived there for 13 years,’’ he said.
“When I was 13, I moved over to Zagreb and lived there for five years. Dynamo had a camp over here every year, and me and my brother got scouted. It wasn’t easy, but that’s soccer.
“That’s what I love doing, and there’s always sacrifice involved in that sort of stuff. I got used to it over time.’’
A Croatian junior international, the 19-year-old has been involved in Olyroos training camps since his return Down Under and admits his preference would be to wear the green and gold.
“That’s a goal, not only to get to the Olyroos, but to get to the senior team as well,’’ he said.
“I think it’s a goal for every player, to represent his country.’’
Vujica has impressed Newcastle coach Mark Jones with his work ethic and desire to get stuck in.
“He’s a Croatian youth international, which gives him good pedigree,’’ Jones said.
“He’s a tidy, old-fashioned, left-footed fullback.
“He’s a tenacious defender wanting to improve the quality of his distribution so he can have a real impact in the A-League, and I think he can.
“He’s got that in him.
“He’s got good engines, and hopefully he can be a big part of our team going forward.’’
Meanwhile, a crowd of 45,000 is expected at Etihad Stadium on Saturday for Socceroo champion Tim Cahill’s debut for Melbourne City against the Victory.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat suggested there would be a warm welcome awaiting the veteran.
"Enough's been said. Tim's been great for our code and our country but right here and now, he's the enemy," Muscat said.
It's still a mystery how Melbourne City coach John van 't Schip plans to use Cahill, but on Friday the Dutchman suggested he could start the match despite an interrupted pre-season and international duty.
However long he plays, van 't Schip said he would leave a mark.
"The only thing we have to look at is to manage him to see how far he could come. That could be 90 minutes, 60 minutes, we just have to see," he said.
"I don't see the difference between him starting and coming in ... we are not worried about that, he will have an impact for sure."
The same goes for wherever he plays, with van 't Schip saying he and captain Bruno Fornaroli could manage their interplay to maximum effect as the match changes.
"We know he can play high up the pitch, around the striker, the same counts for Bruno," he said.
"We know Tim's most dangerous moments are in the box, but he has become a very intelligent and good player outside the box during his career."
Cahill's involvement is the cherry on top of the Melbourne derby, which has rarely failed to excite in 19 previous editions.