Wilkinson braced for banter with friendly Mariners foe Simon
Sydney FC defender Alex Wilkinson insisted there will be no time for friendship when he squares up against Central Coast Mariners striker and long-time team-mate Matt Simon on Saturday.
With the wounds from a Big Blue defeat to Melbourne Victory still fresh, the Sky Blues will seek to get back to winning ways in their Round 5 journey north.
The match could see Wilkinson go toe-to-toe with the combative Simon, who re-joined the Mariners in May after three seasons at Sydney FC.
The pair also played together in Gosford and Wilkinson is expecting a few good-natured words to be shared at Central Coast Stadium.
"I've only played against him once I think. It'll be a little bit different obviously," the experienced centre-back told a-league.com.au.
"There will be a bit of banter going on I'm sure.
"It was disappointing to see him leave, but he's nice and close to the family up there and back where he's from. All the boys understood.
"There are no friends on the pitch but afterwards it will be good to catch up."
Simon the perfect Mariners skipper
New Central Coast boss Mike Mulvey added another emotional thread to Simon's latest homecoming by handing the 32-year-old the armband.
The twice-capped attacker is now a senior leader within a young group, capable of lending overseas experience from his time at Korean side Jeonnam Dragons.
Wilkinson, a former Mariners captain, believes Simon is the right for the role.
"I think Mike Mulvey made a point in the media that he was trying to bring back guys who knew the Central Coast and had played at Central Coast before," he said.
"Simmo epitomises that. He's a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, he'll always put in 100 per cent, and he leads by example.
"That's the perfect recipe for a captain."