The A-League now has a majority – six of 11 – of teams whose usual formation involves three centre backs and two wing-backs.
As Tony Popovic’s Perth Glory rolls on, Jason Davidson has quietly continued his bid for a return to the Socceroos.
Davidson’s European club adventure started so well, in Portugal, where Pacos de Ferreira saw him complete a tough apprenticeship in defending against the likes of a young Angel di Maria.
He was a fan favourite at Dutch outfit Heracles Almelo, where his form earned him regular Socceroos games and a starring role in Australia’s 2015 Asian Cup triumph.
Tougher times would come though, when a dream move to then-Premier League side West Bromwich Albion produced little in the way of first-team opportunities, before spells with Huddersfield, a brief respite at FC Groningen, a terrible time in Croatia with Rijeka, and a decent stint in Slovakia.
The left-back endured a couple of tough seasons, which cost him his Socceroos berth and a chance at competing at a second consecutive World Cup.
But since returning home, he has proven himself as arguably being the best left-back in the league and one of the signings of the season.
Davidson managed a goal and an assist during Perth’s resounding 4-0 win over Brisbane Roar, taking his assists tally to the season to four.
The only question remaining is how well does he have to play before he is considered for a look-in from Graham Arnold?
With Aziz Behich struggling for game-time at Dutch giants PSV and Alex Gersbach yet to make a single appearance for NAC Breda since signing in the summer, Davidson may soon find himself back in favour for the green and gold.
Even former Liverpool left-back Brad Smith only managed six appearances for the Seattle Sounders in the MLS since joining on loan from Bournemouth.
Davidson has appeared in all 19 of Glory’s games thus far this season and his consistency must have been noticed by now. In fact, he may have considered himself unlucky not to have been called up to the Asian Cup for Australia’s ill-fated tournament – at the very least as an option off the bench – such was his form leading into squad selection.
With Popovic favouring a back-three this season, Davidson has taken on far greater importance, having to contribute equally going forward as defensively, and has done so with incredible consistency.
If there is one criticism, it’s that he perhaps hasn’t done as well with some of his shooting opportunities, but otherwise he has been almost flawless.
His outstanding work-rate allows Popovic the flexibility to commit so many numbers forward, and while the likes of Diego Castro, Chris Ikonomidis and Andy Keogh continue to receive much of the plaudits, Davidson’s work goes seemingly unappreciated.
At 27, Davidson still has plenty to offer the national team and if he can continue to perform as well as he has for the Glory, he may find himself an A-League champion by the time the season comes to end.
Whether or not the former Socceroo would be willing to adventure overseas with his young family once again in light of his recent experiences remains to be seen, but he may become an attractive proposition for offers from Asia or perhaps even Europe once more.