Wilkinson pushing for starting spot

Defender Alex Wilkinson was disappointed to miss out on a starting role in the Socceroos’ Asian Cup opener but says the team comes first.

Trent Sainsbury and Matthew Spiranovic were preferred over the 30-year-old in the heart of defence for the Kuwait game, which Australia won 4-1.

Wilkinson has started every game for the Socceroos since May 2014, apart from the friendly against Saudi Arabia in London, where he played for 84 minutes after replacing Sainsbury.

He has been paired with either Sainsbury or Spiranovic and played all three World Cup fixtures in Brazil.

“The boss has got tough decisions to make and I was disappointed not to start but the team comes first,” Wilkinson told FourFourTwo.

“It’s not about individuals when we’re in camp. There’s 23 guys there that want to play and only 11 can so it’s up to us that aren’t playing to push the boys that are.

“It’s a long tournament so everyone’s got to be ready to go when they get their chance and I’m no different.”

The Jeonbuk defender heaped praise on his Socceroos teammates following the three-goal win over Kuwait.

“Credit to the boys,” Wilkinson said.

“It’s difficult with a team like that, they obviously started quite defensive. When they go up 1-0 it can be very difficult to get back because they become more and more defensive. We got goals at a good time.

“We got one just before half-time to put us up which was perfect timing. The boys came in full of confidence and then second half it opened up quite a bit and we probably could have scored a few more.

"Their keeper made a number of great saves and so did Maty Ryan. It could have easily been 6 or 7-4, or 6-3 or something like that I guess. A good start and we’ll only improve. It’s good to get the first game out of the way and get a win.

“It’s the first game at home for the Socceroos in a long time. There was a few nerves out there for the boys and it was great to just get that first win out of the way and get three points.”

Australia take on Oman, who went down 1-0 to South Korea on Saturday, in Sydney on Tuesday.

Wilkinson doesn’t expect Oman to be pushovers.

“Traditionally they’ve always been a good team and Australia has always had difficulty playing against them,” the former Central Coast Mariner said.

“So we’re expecting a difficult game.