Defensive cohesion the key: Wilko

Consistent matches together and improved understanding is the key to the Socceroos having more clean sheets, according to defender Alex Wilkinson.

While the ex-Central Coast Mariners skipper has become a mainstay of the back-line since the World Cup, there have been a lot changes due to injury and as coach Ange Postecoglou looks for the best combination moving forward.

In that time the Socceroos have struggled to keep clean sheets, with the 0-0 draw against UAE on Saturday morning (AEDT) the first time they have kept an opponent scoreless in  nine matches.

“Over the last year we’ve been unlucky to have a lot of injuries in the back four. Consistently wise I don’t think we’ve had the same back four together in too many games at all,” the K-League based Wilkinson told FFA TV.

“It can make it difficult to have an understanding and get an idea on how each individual plays. Anyone will tell you as a defender, the more you can play together as a unit the easier it becomes and the more you get used to each other.

“Hopefully over the next few games the back four can stay fairly constant and we’ll see some improvement out of that.”

Wilkinson said after the huge challenges the side faced in Brazil, it has been good to take on rival Asian opponents in recent friendlies to build towards the Asian Cup.

“It’s nice to play Saudi (Arabia), UAE, now Qatar and Japan next month to get an idea of the sort of opposition we’re facing in January,” Wilkinson said.

“It’s important we go out and perform against these teams because if we can play well and get results against these teams its put doubts in their mind if we come up against them in January if we played well against them previously.

“It’s important and I’m sure the boys are excited about getting out and doing well again.”