The Central Coast Mariners have signed former Melbourne Knights captain Tomislav Uskok as a replacement for departed defender Eddy Bosnar.
Uskok, 24, has signed with the A-League battlers for the rest of the season in what is his first crack at professional football.
Uskok actually left the Knights to join the Mark Rudan-coached Sydney United 58 in the NSW National Premier Leagues competition, but went on trial with the Mariners and clearly did enough to impress coach Tony Walmsley.
He comes to the club following the release of veteran defender Bosnar, whose contract was mutually terminated.
"I'm excited, just looking forward to the challenge and getting started with the club," Uskok said.
"I was at Melbourne Knights, I've been there for a few years now and grew up with that club and I captained them this year.
"I want to push myself towards a starting berth and go from there. I think I'm capable, that's what I'm here to do, I'm not here to make up numbers."
Uskok thanked Walmsley for giving A-League chances to players from state-league level, with the Mariners having raided the NPL for the likes of Jacob Poscoliero and Dan Heffernan in recent times.
"Not many people look at NPL players but Tony's shown that he's willing to give people a go," Uskok said.
"For a semi-professional environment the standard of play is very good, there's definitely players in every team that are A-League level."
Walmsley said he originally wanted to sign Uskok during pre-season but couldn't due to squad number restrictions.
"When he came in pre-season he impressed us with his character and attributes. He's six foot five and quite elegant in possession with a good range of passing," he said.
"He will push for a place at centre back as well as a holding midfielder and joins us at a good time for both the club and Tomi."