EXCLUSIVE: Pilkington eyeing first team spot at Melbourne Victory
Melbourne Victory youngster Luke Pilkington has his sights firmly set on grabbing a regular first team spot this season. The 20-year old ACT product spent last season with the Victory after winning Fox 8's Football Superstar competition and did well enough to earn himself a further one-year deal with the club.
This season, Pilkington is looking to go one step further and push for first team selection after a handful of appearances in the A-League and Asian Champions League last term.
"Last year was the start of the transition and I took a while to find my feet but now I'm in with the team and training all the time under (head coach) Ernie (Merrick) and Azza (assistant Aaron Healey). I think it's going really well, I'm improving and learning lots of new stuff every training session," Pilkington told tribafootball.com.
"I'm not going to not try and get in obviously. Every training session is just try to improve and prove to Ernie that I'm worth a spot in the first team. That's my goal this year, to hopefully break into the starting line-up and get regular appearances throughout the season, that's definitely my aim.
"I'm on a one-year contract so that's what my head and heart is about this season. I'm going to try and work into the first team and that's really the only place where my head is at, at the moment."
As for his preferred position, Pilkington was not too perturbed where Merrick puts him.
"I prefer playing a midfield role but Ernie's playing me at left-back every now and then which is good. I'm learning a new position but I'll play wherever I'm put basically," he added.
Pilkington won the second version of cable television's Football Superstar so he was able to give some friendly advice to Liam McCormick who won this year's edition and a contract with the Brisbane Roar.
"What I did was just get my head down and do your work and don't let the TV show try and get to your head. You just have to stick to it and do what you are meant to do and that's play football," Pilkington said maturely.
The Victory have kept their squad fairly stable this term as they go about trying to build up their growing list of young players and Pilkington said it was great to be a part of that developing cluster.
"There's obviously a competitive edge that you want to outdo your young mates and get that spot in the team but I wouldn't say there is an out and out rivalry between anyone. We are all just mates and we all do our best to try and impress the coaches," he added further.
And as for the season ahead from a team perspective, essentially Pilkington is looking to be a part of a very successful outfit.
"Last season's end (Grand Final loss to Sydney FC) was a bit of an anti-climax but I think all the boys pulled through it and it just sharpened our focus for winning it this year and going that step further," he said.
"Training's looking sharp and all the boys are looking forward to try and regain the title this year."