Leigh Broxham reckons injured striker Archie Thompson could be Melbourne Victory's secret weapon in the second half of the Hyundai A-League season as the Big V look to go back-to-back.
Thompson has yet to taste A-League action in 2015/16 as he recovers from a knee injury sustained in the FFA Cup quarter-finals, but vision of the veteran training this week has Victory fans looking forward to his return, which is expected around Christmas.
With Victory having already lifted the Westfield FFA Cup this season - they defeated Perth Glory 2-0 in the final last week - Broxham has backed his team to get even better when Thompson is back involved.
"He's [Thompson] making good progress, [which] is fantastic and once he's in full flight and training again, he'll obviously push for a spot and he'll probably [come in] at a time when it'll be a good time for him to start coming back and a bit of freshness and start pushing players again for places," Broxham said on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old versatile midfielder added: "He [Thompson] obviously went through a little tough patch there [when he got injured], as anyone would, but he's always happy, he's always jovial and it's great that he's back in and around the changing rooms."
Thompson is just one member of an impressive squad at coach Kevin Muscat's disposal, which will be severely tested on Saturday when Victory head north for the Big Blue against Sydney FC.
For the second straight season, Victory's first trip to Sydney of the campaign will see them undermanned but Broxham is convinced the champions have the depth to handle it even though the game comes too early for Thompson.
Last season, a relatively understrength Victory pushed Sydney all the way at Allianz Stadium in a scoreless draw.
This time around, with captain Carl Valeri suspended following his red card in last week's FFA Cup triumph and five other players away on international duty, Muscat will again have to reshuffle his starting line-up but Broxham is confident his coach can find a winning formula.
"We did well last time and everyone who comes in, they all push for a spot and it's something great to have and it's something that Kevin's created," he said.
Victory remain hopeful Kosta Barbarouses - winner of the Mark Viduka medal as the best player in the FFA Cup Final - may still play a part in the Big Blue, with the New Zealand winger planning to fly straight to Sydney after the All Whites' friendly against Oman on Thursday.