Carlos to take on Jets

Melbourne Victory is set to be boosted by the return of Carlos Hernandez for Sunday's clash against Newcastle at EnergyAustralia Stadium, with the Costa Rican recovered from the ankle injury which kept him out of the loss to North Queensland.

Melbourne Victory is set to be boosted by the return of Carlos Hernandez for Sunday's clash against Newcastle at EnergyAustralia Stadium, with the Costa Rican recovered from the ankle injury which kept him out of the loss to North Queensland.

Hernandez spent the New Year's period in his homeland and returns to Melbourne on Tuesday, with his family set to make a permanent move to Australia. Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick confirmed that Hernandez had recovered from the knock he received to his ankle against Sydney and providing he completed a session later in the week would be available to take on Newcastle.

The 27-year-old has been one of Melbourne's most influential players this season and was the star when setting up two goals and scoring the other in the Victory's 3-1 win in Newcastle in October.

Marquee man Archie Thompson and in-form full back Matthew Kemp are also set to be included in the side providing they don't pick up any knocks when Australia plays Kuwait in Kuwait City on Thursday morning.

Experienced defender Rody Vargas said he expects that Thompson and Kemp will be desperate to play in the game with Melbourne in a real dogfight with Sydney in the battle for top spot.

"It's a long trip but any boys that have ever gone away with the national team and come back into the Hyundai A-League, it's a massive boost. The boys will be buzzing, hopefully they both get a start and a full game and there's no doubt they'll come back full of confidence and looking fit," he said.

Vargas said the 1-0 loss to North Queensland on December 27 had been a wake up call to the defending champions. Describing it as one of the worst efforts of the year, he said the players have had plenty of time to reflect on what went wrong.

"I think it was up there with our most disappointing efforts. It was hot, and we had players out, but they are not excuses. We are a top two side and we think we are good enough to cover those things. We just didn't perform on the day," he said.

"It's been two weeks, we're all looking forward to the next game. There's a few things we have to rectify if we are going to stay in the top two."

Newcastle has been one of the great enigmas of the Hyundai A-League this season, winning four games in a row before a last start 4-0 thumping by Perth. Vargas expects Branko Culina's men, who are currently fourth and fighting hard for a spot in the top six, to provide stiff opposition.

"They know it's the business end of the season, they'll be looking to make a push to the top six. So there's no doubt it will be a tough game. They'll be ready for it," he said.

"We can't slip up, we know it's a big game for us. We'll take a bit of confidence from last time when we came back with a 3-1 win. Hopefully we can do the same this week."