Wilko call-up 'long overdue'

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TWO FORMER Mariners coaches have thrown their support behind new Socceroo centre back Alex Wilkinson and said the defender’s call-up is along overdue.

Lawrie McKinna coached the 29 year old at both Northern Spirit in the NSL and at the Mariners, while Tony Walmlsey worked with him at Bluetongue Stadium as an assistant to Graham Arnold.

“I think Ange Postecoglou must have a similar idea to me,” said McKinna “I thought Wilko deserved his call-up quite a few years ago. 

“He was Mr Consistency. He’s always consistent and as a coach you want your main centre half’s to be steady, to do a good job.

"You don’t want them running up the park every five minutes and score goals. You want them to defend first.”

McKinna made the ex-Joey and Young Socceroo captain in 2006, with Noel Spencer ruled out due to injury, where he was the youngest skipper in the A-League at the time.

“I thought Wilko would deliver the attributes of a captain on the park,” he said. “He maybe wasn’t the most vocal guy but he certainly got respect from the likes of Tony Vidmar, John Aloisi, ex-Socceroos who were at the club, Mark Bosnich.

"I saw him as the club’s future captain and he went on to do a fantastic job. He’s now 29 but he’s got a few good years left.

"It’d be a shame if somebody like Wilko didn’t get a chance at the international level. I think he’s deserved it.”

McKinna hailed Wilkinson’s pace and believes he won’t let anyone down if he gets the chance to make his debut against Costa Rica.

The central defender, who broke into first grade in the NSL in 2002 and made 44 appearances for Northern Spirit, is currently plying his trade in Korea with Jeonbuk Motors.

Wilkinson represented Australia at U20 level under Postecoglou and enjoyed seven successful seasons on the Central Coast.

Walmsley spent three seasons with the Mariners and believes the club’s record games holder could be outstanding for the Socceroos.

“Alex was very understated at Central Coast Mariners,” he said. “Alex rarely made mistakes. Played within himself. He’s a classy guy.”

Walmsley feels that Wilkinson has been unfairly overlooked for the national team in the past.

He added: “He’s a seven to an eight out of ten every single game. He doesn’t make mistakes.

"Alex gives quiet but careful leadership. A player deserving on every level.”