Socceroos eye pre-World Cup swoop
THE Socceroos could pull off a sensational pre-World Cup swoop for Croatia Under 21 defender Fran Karacic, who looms as a serious smoky.
Karacic is a dashing fullback with Lokomotiva Zagreb who has been identified as a potential solution to one of Australia's problem positions.
The Herald Sun can reveal that Karacic, 21, is on the radar of Bert van Marwijk and his coaching staff.
Karacic was born in the Croatian capital Zagreb, but has an Australian passport through his father who was born in Australia.
He has played 53 first-team games for Lokomotiva, who are sixth in the Croatian top division.
Lokomotiva executive director Dennis Gudasic revealed that the Socceroos had previously made a play for Karacic during Ange Postecoglou's reign, but hinted that a switch could happen.
"Fran has been approached (by FFA). It is his call, but I believe he will seriously consider it (if he gets called up). He has been in Croatia for a while, but we will support his decision,'' Gudasic told the Herald Sun.
"He'd be a worthy member of the Australian team. They looked at him before but he had to pull out due to injury.
"He has the potential to play for Croatia, but if he plays in a World Cup there is no turning back.
"The way he's developing and when you look at Fran three years ago compared to now, in a few years he will definitely be at the level to play for the Croatian national team. But Croatia is a hard team to break into."
Milos Degenek and Josh Risdon were the preferred right-backs in qualifying, while Bailey Wright, Ryan McGowan and Mark Milligan have also played there.
Karacic has overcome injury and is playing under the nose of Socceroos assistant Ante Milicic, who is based in Zagreb.
While Karacic has impressed for Croatia's Under 21s, there is a high-calibre queue ahead of him in the Croatian national team, led by Atletico Madrid right-back Sime Vrsaljko, who just took over from Croatia legend Darijo Srna. Former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka can also play right-back.
Standing at 184cm, Karacic is versatile and can play at left-back or stopper.