Socceroos defender Milos Degenek is hoping a fresh start in his club career can have him at his best leading into the 2022 World Cup.
Degenek departed Red Star Belgrade earlier this month after a successful three-year spell across two stints with the Serbian outfit, highlighted by three league titles and a cup triumph.
He also played in the UEFA Champions League against some of the biggest teams in the world, including Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.
It is expected Degenek's switch to the United States with Major League Soccer club Columbus Crew will be confirmed as soon as Tuesday, in a move the 27-year-old says was driven by his desire to be at his peak leading into the World Cup.
"Because the World Cup is on this year I want give myself the best possible chance to stay fit, and obviously to prolong my career as well," he said.
"To go somewhere where it's a fit and healthy environment.
"Where I've got the best support around me to give me the best possible chance to go to the World Cup and the best possible chance to play well for our country.
"That probably helped me a bit decide on where I'm going to play in the future."
Degenek was one of the first players to arrive in camp in Melbourne for Thursday's clash with Vietnam.
Harry Souttar's unfortunate ACL injury against Saudi Arabia in November means the partnership between Degenek and Trent Sainsbury in the heart of the Socceroos defence will be crucial to Australia's hopes of reaching this year's finals in Qatar.
"I'm not a person that's that's not friendly with anyone who plays my position," Degenek said.
"I'd probably be the happiest in the team if Harry was still here and Harry's fit to play because he's a big part of the squad
"I've played together with Trent for the last couple of years here and I think we've formed a really good partnership, especially at the Asian Cup that we had three-four years ago.
"The partnership with Trent, we are a bit experienced, but Ryan McGowan's here as well, who's very experienced, has already played in a World Cup and I think he's here to help as well and to play.
"I think we've got a solid backline."
Australian Associated Press