Sydney FC’s Alex Wilkinson says Sky Blue teammate Milos Ninkovic reminds him of his former teammate and Celtic and Caltex Socceroos star Tom Rogic.
Ninkovic, 31, has been on fire for Sydney FC, and a big reason why the unbeaten Sky Blues are seven points clear after 11 rounds in the Hyundai A-League.
So much so, the 28-capped Serbian was recently asked to rejoin his national team by their FA (an offer he turned them down).
The 2010 World Cup player put in another fine display in his side’s 4-1 drubbing of Perth Glory on Saturday and is an early contender for the Johnny Warren medal for best A-League player.
Ninkovic was also named in this week’s Hyundai A-League Ultimate Team Fans XI, run in conjunction with EA SPORTS FIFA 17, as well as winning yet another spot in the latest www.a-league.com.au team of the week
Playing and training with Ninkovic each week reminds Wilkinson of another sublime playmaker he encountered earlier in his career.
“He [Ninkovic] does some things at training that are pretty freakish. He never loses the ball,” Wilkinson told www.a-league.com.au at a FIFA 17 Ultimate Team event last week.
“You can give him the ball with two players around him and he finds a way to get out of it and play the pass.
“It’s always nice to have someone like that on his team.
Added Wilkinson: “I was lucky enough to be there when Tom [Rogic] first came in to the Mariners [in 2012 after attending the Nike Football Academy following his selection in the global “Nike Chance” talent ID tournament a year earlier].
“’Arnie’ [then Mariners coach Graham Arnold] brought him up from Canberra. He’d been pulled out of nowhere.
“I think Ron Smith [respected Australian youth coach] had a word to Arnie about Tommy and you could tell straight away he [Rogic] was a special kid.
“And he’s gone to Celtic [in 2013] but when he left for Celtic I think he’d only had played 20-odd professional games and all of a sudden he’s playing at a club like that.
“And even now, he’s not even played 100 professional games. And that’s when you can tell they are the special ones.
“That he’s able to come straight into the group – and we were a reasonably successful group at the time – and he’s take the mickey at training.
“Great feet, good shot and it’s great to see him go from strength to strength.”
Despite an injury scare this weekend, Rogic has been in stunning form for Celtic this season in what has undoubtedly been his finest season so far.
“Both play the same position and both have fantastic feet and you can play them in tight areas and they have that uncanny ability to jink here and there to get away from their opponents,” Wilkinson said of the comparisons between the two.
“And both are pretty reasonable at scoring goals as well. ‘Ninko’ has banged in four or five now and Tommy’s doing the same over at Celtic.
“So similar players and they both have that great ability to see that final pass and I think that’s the hardest thing in football.Getting to the edge of the box and that final ball.
“Sometimes it can let you down but both of those players have the ability to crack a defence wide open and create goal-scoring opportunities.”
And while Rogic contends with a freezing Scottish winter, Ninkovic, Wilkinson and Co are preparing for a festive season of football in the sunshine.
“We have a Boxing day game, so we fly to Adelaide on Christmas Day. My missus isn’t happy!
“You’ve got to do it. It’s holidays so hopefully the crowds can come out and support us and everyone’s happy they’re on holidays and hopefully the fans can embrace it."