Melbourne City's newly found defensive resolve will be put under further scrutiny after the call-up of centre back Alex Wilkinson as an injury replacement in the Socceroo squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Tajikistan in Adelaide and Jordan in Sydney.
Wilkinson has slotted efficiently into the City rearguard since joining in the January transfer window and has played in a major role in stiffening a hitherto porous defence.
For the first time this season City have kept clean sheets in their two past matches, 3-0 wins over Sydney in Melbourne and a 1-0 triumph against Adelaide at Hindmarsh last Friday.
Wilkinson has been drafted into Ange Postecoglou's squad in place of Matthew Spiranovic, who has been ruled out due to a calf strain. The pair were Australia's first-choice starting centre backs during the World Cup in Brazil.
The call-up means Wilkinson will miss City's home game against Wellington on Easter Monday, although he is available for this Friday's glamour clash with league leaders Brisbane Roar.
Spiranovic did not play for his Chinese club team Hangzhou Greentown last weekend. As Wilkinson is an experienced, known quantity who is fully match fit, he was a logical choice, Socceroo coach Ange Postecoglou said.
"Matthew has picked up a minor calf strain that kept him out of his game last weekend so it is best that he stays in China to get the injury right and we can bring in Alex Wilkinson who has always done the job when selected," Postecoglou said.
"One of the advantages of creating depth in this squad over the last two years is the ability to not have to take risks with players who have an injury and we will not lose anything by having Alex come into the squad for these two crucial matches."
Wilkinson, who was also a member of the Asian Cup-winning squad, added: "It's great to get the call-up for the two games against Tajikistan and Jordan because they are two very important World Cup qualifiers
"It's always an honour to get selected for the Socceroos and I'm looking forward to getting into camp in Adelaide. It's a wonderful opportunity for me to impress Ange and play my part against Tajikistan and Jordan."