Wilkinson targets Macedonia start

Defender Alex Wilkinson is hoping he has done enough to keep his starting spot to face Macedonia after helping the Socceroos draw with Germany.

Wilkinson was paired with debutant Luke DeVere at the back for Australia in Kaiserslautern, with Trent Sainbury still coming back from injury and Matt Spiranovic ruled out.

The 30-year-old, who played all three World Cup games in Brazil, was solid in the heart of defence and made some key interventions in the second half against the Germans.

The Socceroos play FYR Macedonia in Skopje on Tuesday morning (AEDT) and the K-League defender is competing with Sainsbury, DeVere and Bailey Wright for a starting position.

“I’m not sure, I hope so,” Wilkinson said of his chances of backing up after Kaiserslautern.

“Obviously I love playing for the national team and want to play as many games as I can. Fingers crossed I’ve done enough and can back up.

“The more involved you are with the national team and the more games you play against quality opposition, the more comfortable you feel.

“Now it’s getting to that stage where I’ve be around a while and I enjoy being out there amongst the boys.

“If I need to lead some of the younger boys then so be it. I’m really enjoying being involved and hopefully doing enough to stay involved with the future.”

Wilkinson, who arrived  in Germany from Korea less than 48 hours before kick-off, was forced off in the 78th minute with cramp, but admitted he didn’t want to be substituted.

“I enjoyed myself out there,” he said. “It was a great experience playing the world champs at home.

“Towards the end the legs went out there a bit, I had a bit of a niggly injury the last three or four weeks. My first game was only the middle of last week.

“My condition ran out a little bit at the end but good to get about 80 minutes. And a decent result for us.

“I thought the boys did exceptionally well, we created some great chances. Disappointed to let them get that goals towards the end but it’s football. Still a positive note.”

Wilkinson complimented the performance of Brisbane Roar defender, DeVere, who was making his long-awaited Socceroo debut.

“It was great for him,” the former Central Coast Mariners skipper said.

“I said to (DeVere) after the game, ‘some game to make your debut – Germany away’. I thought he did really, really well. He’s obviously a great player and he’s been doing really well for Brisbane.

“It was our first game together and I enjoyed playing with him. Hopefully it’s the first of many. There were probably a few nerves there but he was very solid. He made some great tackles.”

The Socceroos face FYR Macedonia at the Fillip II Arena and the centre back admits he knows little about the team. Australia has only played the Red Lions once before, back in 1997, when current assistant coach Aurelio Vidmar scored the only goal in 1-0 Socceroo win.

“We’ll do some video on them,” Wilkinson said. “But Ange really drums into us that it’s about us, it’s about how we want to play. That won’t change. But we’ll give them their due.”