Socceroos’ early arrival a plus says Wilko

Central defender Alex Wilkinson has hailed the idea of arriving as the first nation at the World Cup, saying it will benefit the Socceroos' preparation massively as they adjust to some hot conditions in Brazil.

Wilkinson, 29, was part of another physical demanding session on Sunday ahead of Monday’s hit-out with a local club side and Friday’s friendly with Croatia in Salvador.

But the former Mariner in the Hyundai A-League said the extra time after arriving early had been well spent in Vitoria at the team's training base. 

“It’s been tough these last few days. The heat is something some of the guys aren’t used to right now,” the Jeonbuk Motors defender told reporters.

“But it’s been great we got here early.

“The training’s been intense but the medical staff and coaching staff have made sure have made sure it’s been tough sessions to get fitness in the legs and get us used to the conditions.

“With us being here two weeks before our first game it gives us that chance to do a few tough sessions and get that conditioning in because a lot of teams coming in late won’t get that chance.

“Give it a couple more days and we’ll be fine,” he said.

Wilkinson added being in the middle of his K-League season meant he was in good physical shape coming into camp, with the heat in sharp contrast to a winter in Korea.

Monday’s hit-out against a local club side was another opportunity to work on tactical formations, he added.

“It’s not so much about the opposition it’s about us and how we want to play.”

As for his position in the 23, and like most in the squad Wilkinson was unsure.

“Four miss out, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed it’s not me. We’re a tight knit bunch so we’ll be upset for them. It’ll be a very tough call.

“A year ago, even six months ago, I would never have pictured being here,” he added.

“I count myself very lucky. It’s a special thing going to a World Cup. It doesn’t happen very often.

“And so many great players from our country who never got to go [to a World Cup] in the past missing out by the narrowest of margins.”

Wilkinson reiterated what many Aussie players have said about Chile perhaps under-estimating the Socceroos.

“There’s no doubt we’ll be underdogs. We’re more than happy to play with no pressure. The pressure will be on our opponents and we can relax and play some good football and cause some surprises," he said. 

And like yesterday, the question of Australia being a good-looking squad was raised by some local journalists.

A smiling Wilkinson responded diplomatically.

“I don’t know. It’s a nice compliment. I’ll tell the boys on the bus.” 

The Socceroos play Croatia in a friendly on Friday night (kick off 9am AEST time Saturday morning live on Fox Sports) ahead of their tournament opener against Chile on June 13.

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