Rangers defender Niko Katic made his debut for loan side Hajduk Split in a friendly against Croatian third-tier side Zmaj Makarska and admits his family are “delighted” he’s joined Hajduk for the rest of the season.
Katic was a deadline day departure from Ibrox, alongside Cedric Itten, after a serious injury pushed him down the pecking order at Rangers and the one-time Croatian international confessed it was a good feeling to get an hour under his belt for Hajduk.
After sustaining a major knee injury on the eve of last season, Rangers brought in Leon Balogun and, subsequently, Jack Simpson and after limited appearances in friendlies for Steven Gerrard’s side since returning to fitness, the decision was made to loan Katic out to get him as much game time as possible.
The defender insists he fees at his best and wants to impress in his homeland after joining Hajduk six years after they turned down the chance to sign Katic as a teenager, saying: “I am very happy to play this match for Hajduk. To play for an hour meant a lot to me after so long out.
“I only had a couple of training sessions with my new teammates before the game so it wasn’t ideal, but I am glad to have met them on the pitch too.
“Previously this season, I had only played limited minutes at Rangers in pre-season and for the reserves and it’s really important for me to get as much game time as possible.
“I feel great and I’m physically ready. I have been working at full strength for three or four months now and I used the summer break to get to the best possible level.
“So I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming matches and I hope to help Hajduk to achieve the best possible results.
“After my time in Scotland, it’s nice to come home to my people and my family too. They are all delighted I have become a part of Hajduk.”
Katic’s Rangers future looks uncertain with Hajduk seemingly having an option to make the deal permanent next summer if the defender impresses.
While few will want Katic to leave for good, if Rangers can get a good fee for the Croatian then there’s probably no better time for the Gers to move him on.
Connor Goldson’s long-term future being decided could impact whether Rangers want to sell Katic but if the Englishman does sign a new contract, it’s hard to see Katic staying at Ibrox beyond the end of the season.
Meanwhile, a key Rangers star has been talking about his future at Ibrox amid £15m links out of the club this summer.