Ajdin Hrustic savouring Groningen breakthrough

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The former South Melbourne youth player is building a reputation in the Eredivisie and is reportedly the subject of an international tug-of-war


GOALEXCLUSIVE

Having only made his senior debut for Groningen last month, young Australian winger Ajdin Hrustic admits a part of him doesn't want the 2016-17 Eredivisie season to end.

Hrustic, 20, has been training permanently with Ernest Faber's first-team squad since January after a strong first half of the campaign with Groningen's second team in the Dutch fourth tier.

The Melbourne-born attacker made his senior debut when he came off the bench against AZ on April 1 and has appeared in four of Groningen's following six games, scoring his maiden goal in a 5-1 thumping of PEC Zwolle last month.

 

That moment when you score your first goal for @fcgroningen @ajdin36hrustic #gropec #prideofthenorth #eredivisie

A post shared by FC Groningen (@fcgroningen) on

Speaking to Goal in the lead-up to Groningen's final match of the regular season on Sunday - a 5-3 win over Twente - Hrustic appeared still to be coming to grips with his elevation to top-tier European football.

"To be honest, I don't want to stop," he said.

"I would like to keep going but my body also needs rest. I've played quite a lot of games for the second team… a little break is also good.

"It seems so long but it's only like a month since I made my debut and I even managed to get myself a goal, and it's obviously great that the coach has got so much trust in me.

"So I'm just quite flattered to be honest."

Jason Davidson joins Groningen on loan

Luckily for Hrustic, Groningen have at least two games left this term, as Faber's side have qualified for the Eredivisie's Europa League play-offs.

 

Groningen face AZ in a two-legged tie starting on Wednesday, with the winner to play either Heerenveen or Utrecht for a spot in next season's second qualifying round of the Europa League.

Hrustic was raised in Dandenong and started playing football locally before eventually joining South Melbourne's youth set-up.

He moved to England with his family as a 14-year-old and spent time at Nottingham Forest and Austria Vienna before signing with Schalke in 2012.

But after a tough time with injuries at the Bundesliga club, he moved across the Dutch-German border to Groningen.

The versatile attacking midfielder's Eredivisie breakthrough has not gone unnoticed.

Fringe Socceroos to join development squad

Hrustic was involved with an Australian development squad in March - the first time he has been selected by the country of his birth, while the Herald Sun has reported his father's homeland Bosnia and Herzegovina are also interested.

Asked about the possibility of a shock call-up for next month's World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia, the Socceroos' friendly versus Brazil and the 2017 Confederations Cup, Hrustic said: "I haven't even thought about it, if I'm honest.

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"I'm never surprised but it would be an honour to represent your country.

"It was a great experience [with the development squad].

"We had a great connection from the first minute and I enjoyed my time there."

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