Hernandez in doubt for Victory

Melbourne midfielder Carlos Hernandez is very unlikely to start in Saturday's second leg of the Hyundai A-League Major Semi-Final against Adelaide, with the Costa Rican only arriving back in Australia on the morning of the game.

Melbourne midfielder Carlos Hernandez is very unlikely to start in Saturday's second leg of the Hyundai A-League Major Semi-Final against Adelaide, with the Costa Rican only arriving back in Australia on the morning of the game.

Hernandez played in Costa Rica's World Cup qualifier against Honduras in San Jose on Thursday afternoon (Australian time) and faces a long trip to get back in time for the Telstra Dome clash.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick admitted Hernandez was very unlikely to start but would be given a chance to prove he is fit and ready before the game.

"We're preparing not to start him. Given that he's travelling so far, and assuming that he will play 90 minutes over there. If he only plays a small part, and he has a good flight back, then there are other options, but we're preparing not to start him," Merrick said.

"The physios will be right on it as soon as he arrives. We've got a strategy in place to see if we can get him up for it."

With Melbourne already 2-0 up in the two-legged tie, the possible loss of an attacking player like Hernandez is not a major blow for the Victory, who have an otherwise full squad to choose from.

"We've got players who can play in Carlos' position, we've got Nick Ward, we've got Tom Pondeljak. Ney Fabiano is another option and then there's Grant Brebner, I've got lots of options. We've got really good depth and I'll utilise that," he said.

"We'll name all the boys that are in contention, and we won't reduce that until the Saturday. It's virtually the same squad as we've named most of the year."

Billy Celeski left the training track early on Thursday, but Merrick dismissed any concerns over the influential midfielder's fitness.

"There's a number of players that have little niggles, who are on individual programs. There are just times when they go 'off-legs' and do a slightly different session, which means they are on the pitch for a shorter amount of time. Everyone is fit and ready to go," he said.

Melbourne has had a charmed run with injury this year and has in the past eight games had a full list of players to choose from.

The last time Melbourne ruled a player out through injury was in the game against Perth on December 6, with Evan Berger still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Merrick said that while some of that was just fortune, he said the club's approach to sports science had made a big impact.

"It's predominantly player management. We've got a really good medical team and strength and conditioning team. There's a little bit of luck involved regarding injuries," he said.

"We were lucky not to get an injury out of last week. We've done well with our injuries this year and we hope that will continue."