Wilkinson sweats on Socceroos selection

Sydney FC and Australia defender Alex Wilkinson admits he has "no idea" if his stellar club season will be rewarded with a recall to the national team that is chasing a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

A-League Rd 18 - Brisbane v Sydney

Wilkinson with Sydney FC Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

Wilkinson, 32, played a key role in the Sky Blues' premiership-championship double but has been overlooked by coach Ange Postecoglou for most of the Socceroos' World Cup qualifiers.

However his strong and domineering form for the Sky Blues was such that it would come as a major surprise if he missed out on selection for the upcoming qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Adelaide on June 8.

Wilkinson said he did not know if he would cap off a memorable season with another selection for the Socceroos.

"I guess playing regularly always gives you the best chance of being picked," Wilkinson said.

"I have been lucky enough to play every game this season so I am match fit and would be ready if I'm lucky enough to be called upon.

"But in terms of my chances I have no idea. You have to talk to the boss, mate.

"Playing for your country is the greatest honour you can achieve. I cherished my time with the national team and being involved with the Socceroos over that three-year period was great.

"I would always love to be involved again but all you can do is concentrate on playing well for your club and Ange has shown that if you are playing well he will look at you. If I was lucky enough to be recalled it would be great."

Wilkinson said he was not thinking too far down the track but he admitted that he would love to be able to take part in a second World Cup after he played in Australia's three group matches in Brazil in 2014.

"Playing in the last World Cup was a dream come true for me," he said.

"To be involved in another would be unbelievable but that is a fair way down the track and something I'm not thinking about too much.

"I just need to keep doing my job for Sydney and if that is enough to get another call-up at some stage then that would be fantastic."

The Socceroos hit a sticky patch a few months ago and for a moment fans were concerned that the team might have lost its verve.

But a comfortable 2-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates in Sydney in March has eased the pressure on Postecoglou and his players.

The Saudis will provide a stiffer test next month but Wilkinson believes the team is now nicely poised to reach the finals in Russia.

"I'm not sure the group were ever lacking confidence or belief," he said.

"I think there were some tough games in difficult conditions on the road in the first half of the qualifiers.

"The win against UAE was a good one and would have given everyone a boost.

"Such games can galvanise a squad and I'm sure they can't wait to play in front of the Aussie fans again against Saudi.

"I think we are well and truly on the right track to Russia."

Wilkinson, who won two championships with Jeonbuk Motors in the Korea Republic in 2014 and 2015, said he will always savour what he rates as one of the most memorable club seasons of his career.

"It was definitely one of the best I've been involved in," he said.

"It was a wonderful year with all we achieved in terms of records and stats. Then to cap it off with a grand final win - something I hadn't done before - was brilliant.

"Having Graham Arnold as coach obviously helped me settle in when I came to a new club because I was familiar with him and a few of the staff.

"I knew how Arnie worked and I had really enjoyed working with him at Central Coast Mariners. Settling into a new team quickly helps with your performances on the pitch."

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4 min read
Published 14 May 2017 at 5:40am
By Philip Micallef
Source: SBS