Former Socceroos defender Alex Wilkinson is set to make his long-awaited return for a Sydney FC side desperate to stop leaking goals.
The Sky Blues skipper has travelled to Tasmania for Sydney’s clash on Saturday against Western United at North Hobart Oval and is expected to make his first A-League appearance since suffering a pelvic injury in his side’s season-opening 3-2 loss to Melbourne Victory on October 8.
In Wilkinson’s absence, the Sydneysiders have struggled defensively, conceding 21 goals in 12 games this season.
“We know that we’ve been conceding too many goals,” the 38-year-old centre-back said.
“That’s something as a whole squad that we’re working on.”
Wilkinson is desperate to play again after more than three months on the sidelines.
“Rehab can be pretty lonely at times. You’re by yourself a lot and doing a lot of things on your own just with the physio – I’m really excited to be back involved,” he said.
“The physios and the medical department have done a great job of rehabbing me and getting me back to a space where I can be back involved in the squad. Hopefully, I can stay involved for the rest of the season.”
Wilkinson was adamant the Sky Blues – who have lost six of their 12 matches this season – could “finish the season with a bang”.
“I’m more than confident we can turn it around with the players we’ve got in the group,” he said.
Western United also has defensive issues heading into Saturday, with the reigning champions conceding an average of two goals per game this season.
United’s defensive stocks have also suffered through the suspension of centre-back Jacob Tratt, who was sent off in his side’s 1-1 draw with the Newcastle Jets in Ballarat last Sunday.
However, United’s attack will be bolstered by the availability of ex-Socceroo James Troisi, who is set to return from injury.
United, which has picked up just 12 points from 12 games in what has been an unconvincing title defence, has played home matches in Tasmania for the past two seasons but in Launceston rather than Hobart.
Sydney’s Wilkinson also previously played in Launceston during his time with the Central Coast Mariners but never in Tasmania’s capital city.
“It’ll be nice to get down there and spread the game,” he said.
“They’d love to have a team down there at some stage in the A-League, so hopefully a lot of supporters can come out to watch the game and support the A-League.”