Archie, Kruse should play

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick rates strike pair Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse a 'good bet' to play in Tuesday night's crucial Asian Champions League clash with group leader Seongnam Ilhwa of South Korea.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick rates strike pair Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse a 'good bet' to play in Tuesday night's crucial Asian Champions League clash with group leader Seongnam Ilhwa of South Korea.

Both players scored in Sunday's major semi-final second leg 2-2 draw with Sydney FC which qualified the titleholders for a place in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final in a fortnight's time.

Four weeks ago, however, neither seemed likely to play any part at all in the Hyundai A-League finals, and there were doubts over their availability for the Victory's ACL campaign.

Thompson had been diagnosed with stress fractures in his right foot and Kruse suffered severe ankle damage in a cynical tackle from behind by Sydney's Terry McFlynn in the club's final match of the regular season.

Both needed to be nursed through Sunday's match but, according to Merrick, they've pulled up in good shape.

"Two days ago we assessed them and the medical staff more or less said you've got 60 minutes in Robbie and you've got half-an-hour max in Archie," Merrick said.

"We didn't plan on extra time at that stage, but Archie said he felt terrific in extra time and given they've both played an hour each, two days later I think they'll have a good chance of getting game time."

"I'm not sure whether from the start yet or not, but I think Archie and Robbie will both be available."

Merrick agreed the tight turnaround between matches would present some significant problems, but he was confident his players would cope.

"Yesterday, the priority was the finals and going straight into the grand final without playing another qualifying match," Merrick said.

"But as soon as the game ended, it's all about the Asian Champions League and it's about qualifying for the group of 16, so we want to take stock."

"The longer the game went yesterday, especially in extra time, the stronger our boys looked, so we are extremely fit which is a credit to our fitness and medical staff."

Merrick said the club's backroom staff have done their homework on Seongnam which opened its ACL campaign with a 2-0 home win over Kawasaki Frontale of Japan.

"We've got a DVD of their first game in the ACL, Seongnam against Kawasaki and we'll show the players today in preparation for the game tomorrow," said Merrick.

"We didn't want to touch the ACL game prior to yesterday's match so we've only got one day to prepare, but that'll be enough."