LUKA Prso had hoped to lead the Young Socceroos at the FIFA under-20 World Cup in Indonesia this year which has fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, the rangy midfielder has switched focus to cementing a spot in the Jets starting side.
Prso has joined Newcastle on loan from Croatian club NK Osijek and could make his debut off the bench in the clash against Western Sydney at Bankwest on Friday night.
"When the under-20 World Cup was cancelled it was a huge disappointment," said Prso, who turned 20 last week. "We had a great squad, a great bunch of boys and we would have been very competitive."
It was Young Socceroos coach and former championship-winning Newcastle boss Gary Van Egmond, who recommended Prso join the Jets.
"Gary and I have a great relationship," Prso said. "We see eye to eye in terms of football and my growth. Playing for the Young Socceroos, I have a little bit of a reputation here but I'd like to grow that."
Based in Europe since age 14, Prso came through academies at Southampton, Bayern Munich and Dinamo Zagred - some of the best development programs in world football - and is ready to step up to the challenge of taking on men.
He had a small taste of senior football in Slovenia last year at Olimpija before the season was cancelled due to the growing COVID-19 situation.
"I was fortunate that Osijek came through with an offer in October," he said. "I was in the under-23 team which play in the second division which is men's football. That was another important step.
"I didn't think I would be going on loan any time soon, but when the opportunity came up here at Newcastle, I thought it would a great experience and a fantastic opportunity for me."
Prso will be challenging fellow young guns Steve Ugarkovic, who also played at Osijek as a teenager, and Angus Thurgate for a place in the Jets midfield.
"Nothing comes for free in football. I know I have to work hard for a spot in the team as everyone else does," he said. I play predominantly as a number eight, a box-to-box midfielder, but can play anywhere in midfield or even on the wing if required. I hope with hard work and time I will be able to crack my way into the starting eleven."
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