Open to an A-League return: Socceroos defender Alex Wilkinson (left) is looking for a new club. Photo: Melissa AdamsSocceroos defender Alex Wilkinson is open to a return to the A-League and rejoining former club Central Coast Mariners now he is a free agent after leaving South Korean club Joenbuk.
The 31-year-old is hoping to finalise his next move in the January transfer window but will not rush a decision that may be one of the most important for his international career.
With an eye on keeping his spot on the Socceroos squad, Wilkinson knows he needs to be playing regular football before March in order to be selected for Australia’s vital World Cup qualifying matches at home to Tajikistan and Jordan. He is weighing up offers to remain playing in Asia or come home to the A-League.
While remaining tight-lipped on clubs he is in talks with, Wilkinson says a shock return to the club he played more than 200 games for remains a possibility.
“It’s great that they’ve signed [former Atletico Madrid winger Luis] Garcia and hopefully it gets a lot of the Central Coast people through the gates and out to support him and the team. If I do decide to come back, then the Mariners could be an option as well,” Wilkinson said.
The Mariners are in dire need of an experienced central defender having parted ways with Eddie Bosnar at the start of the season.
“I’m finished over in Korea at the moment and I finished over there last year so at the moment I’m on the lookout for a new club,” Wilkinson said.
“There’s been a bit of interest here and there and, as I said, there’s also been some interest from different countries in Asia. Obviously I want to get it sorted as soon as possible.
“Obviously this game’s coming up in March and [Socceroos coach] Ange [Postecoglou] has his policy with his players playing regularly and training regularly so to get it sorted as quick as possible is the priority but at the same time I don’t want to rush into anything.”
Wilkinson was speaking at the announcement that Allianz Stadium will host Australia’s qualifier with Jordan on March 29 which will likely be the battle for top spot in their group.
Only the first-placed team in each of the eight groups is guaranteed a spot in the final round of qualifying. Of the eight runners-up only the top four will progress.
“I’m sure Ange would say critical. We didn’t enjoy losing in Jordan, we need to top our group,” Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said.
“[We are expecting] close to a sell-out. Obviously a [Tuesday] night, an 8 o’clock kick-off it will give people plenty of time to get off work and you don’t see the Socceroos at home and we you don’t see the Socceroos in Sydney that often.”
The match will be the first Australian international played in more than 12 months – since the Socceroos won their Asian Cup title in January 2015.