In an interview with the Daily Record, Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has praised Rangers defender Borna Barisic and claimed his teammate Nikola Katic is close to an international call following strong recent form.
The two Gers defenders starred in Sunday’s stunning 2-1 win at Celtic Park, with Barisic providing two assists and Katic scoring the winning goal.
It’s well known how highly Dalic rates Barisic, given that the 27-year-old was a near ever-present throughout his country’s successful Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
However, Katic, who is still only 23, is still waiting for a chance to make the step up from the U21s to establish himself at senior international level.
“It would be so special for Borna and Niko to play for Croatia in Glasgow [during the European Championships] and that has to be their target,” Dalic told the Daily Record. “I watched them in the Old Firm game and was so pleased for both of them. It was a victory for Rangers but I can tell you we also celebrated in Croatia.”
“Borna Barisic is now the number one left-back in my team and I have watched Niko closely. I considered him for the last game but he wasn’t in the Rangers side but I hope he can maintain his level and he’s in my thoughts for the next game.”
After finally cementing his spot in the Rangers XI in September, Barisic has been one of the club’s most impressive and consistent performers this season.
As capable defensively as he is in attack, it’s little surprise that he’s such a hit with Dalic, the coach who took Croatia to the World Cup final in 2018.
As for centre-back Katic, an international call may have seemed some way off when he was warming the bench behind Filip Helander.
However, after the Swede picked up a foot injury in the League Cup final, the former Slaven Belupo star has impressed alongside Connor Goldson.
He’s still young and not yet the finished article, but he’s contributed to three clean sheets in the Gers’ last four fixtures and his size and aerial ability ensure he’s a genuine threat in any opposition area.