The performance of Australia’s incumbent wingbacks will be crucial to a Qantas Socceroos triumph over Oman at Stadium Australia on Tuesday evening.
The performance of Australia-s incumbent wingbacks will be crucial to a Qantas Socceroos triumph over Oman at Stadium Australia on Tuesday evening.
In Matt McKay and Luke Wilkshire, the Qantas Socceroos are able to call upon two proven performers in key positions - each of whom will play an integral role in steadying an otherwise unfamiliar Australian backline.
Regular captain Lucas Neill is suspended for Tuesday-s clash and with several more experienced central defensive options not called upon to face Oman, the influence of McKay and Wilkshire will be pivotal should each get the nod to start.
“Obviously with Lucas not being here, I-m definitely one of the older ones nowadays,” Wilkshire said.
“A lot of the more senior boys, the boys that have been around for a long time, have naturally taken on that (leadership) role and a lot of the younger boys coming in, some new faces, we help them to adapt.
“This (Tuesday night-s match) is crucial for us, this is a chance for us to take a step forward and to break ourselves away from that little pack.
“This is a massive game for us, we-re four games away from the possibility of qualifying for Brazil, it doesn-t get any bigger than this.”
Wilkshire is Australia-s second most capped player in camp and has been a standout performer in green and gold throughout the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign to date.
It was Wilkshire-s strike from the penalty spot that earned Australia a 1-1 draw with Japan in their first, and as yet only, home match of the current qualification stage.
On the opposite flank, McKay has made the left back position his own despite being largely untried in that role throughout his career.
Usually deployed as a midfielder, the versatile 30-year-old was exceptional in defence in Australia-s last FIFA World Cup qualifier against Iraq in October of last year.
With promising but inexperienced youngster Michael Zullo the only specialist left back in camp, it would seem likely for coach Holger Osieck to lean on McKay-s experience with so much at stake on Tuesday.
“It-s great to be back in Australia and looking forward to this game, because it-s obviously the games you want to play, the most competitive ones and the ones that mean a lot to the country,” McKay said.
“There-s always competition for spots, but this camp there-s a lot of spots available and everyone-s working extremely hard.
“It-s shown on the training paddock for the first five days, everyone-s been getting stuck in and enjoying themselves.
“Hopefully that will result in a good performance on Tuesday night.”
The Qantas Socceroos- road to Brazil recommences on Tuesday, 26 March at Sydney-s Stadium Australia with a crucial clash against Oman. Kick off is at 7.30pm AEDT.
Tickets for this match are available from www.footballaustralia.com.au/tickets.