Allsopp set to start

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is expected to gamble on comeback kid Danny Allsopp for a starting berth in Sunday's Hyundai A-League blockbuster against Adelaide United at AAMI Park.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is expected to gamble on comeback kid Danny Allsopp for a starting berth in Sunday's Hyundai A-League blockbuster against Adelaide United at AAMI Park.

A cagey Merrick kept his cards fairly close when quizzed on the make-up of his starting 11, but provided a good push when asked about Allsopp.

"There is a good chance that Danny will start - if you remember Danny's record against Adelaide, it's pretty well outstanding," Merrick said on Saturday.

"He'll be a good person to start with, but I can't see him lasting the 90 minutes if he started. Him and Ricardinho up front would be a good combination with Carlos providing the service."

Allsopp, who returned to the Victory on Christmas Eve after stints with Qatar club Al-Rayyan and MLS outfit D.C United, sits equal fourth on the all-time Hyundai A-League goalscorers list, having hit 36 goals in 90 appearances.

In more selection news, captain Kevin Muscat is back after being rested for the Wellington game, while Tom Pondeljak and Matthew Kemp will miss as they are not 100 percent fit.

"I would say Matthew Kemp is trying to play too early, I don't think he's ready, so we'll rest him and Tom Pondeljak is probably a bit tired," Merrick said.

Muscat's return may result in a change of formation from the 4-3-3 played against Wellington to a 3-4-3, the preferred option during Victory's seven-match unbeaten run prior to their defeat in New Zealand.

"For six years now we've played with two varieties of formation depending on how the opposition plays, so we can maximize the quality of players we have," Merrick said.

"I don't think Kevin would have made a lot of difference in Wellington because I thought Roddy (Vargas) and Ado (Adrian Leijer) did well and Petkovic was first-class."

"I thought we played particularly poorly in midfield, unusually for Melbourne Victory our possession play was very poor and our ability to hold onto the ball in the middle third was extremely poor. Our most creative midfielder (Grant Brebner) finished up playing a defensive role."

Merrick believes the quick turnaround from the Wellington game will prove a boost for his side, who have beaten the Reds in their last 10 encounters.

"I think the short turnaround is very good for us, particularly playing at home in front of our crowd here at AAMI Park against a team like Adelaide because you wouldn't want to dwell on that loss and more importantly, that performance for too long," Merrick said.

Having made Etihad Stadium such a graveyard for the Reds, this clash will be the first time the traditional rivals have met at AAMI Park, something Merrick is eager to see.

"We've got to put on a performance that is much more flowing and the transition from defence to attack has to be much quicker, this is the place to do it, the surface is fantastic," Merrick said.

"We've had it over Adelaide in the past 10 games, but that's history and history doesn't affect the future. Whatever happens is solely dependent on how we perform, we can't rely on any statistics."