Kruse's late charge stalled

A barnstorming Friday training session has not been enough for Melbourne Victory to risk Robbie Kruse's fitness in Saturday's match against Perth at AAMi Stadium.

A barnstorming Friday training session has not been enough for Melbourne Victory to risk Robbie Kruse's fitness in Saturday's match against Perth at AAMi Stadium.

Kruse, who was ruled out of the opening match of the season against Sydney with hamstring soreness, may have competed in a full session at Gosch's Paddock on the day before the game but coach Ernie Merrick is not convinced his young striker is ready to return and he will be rested.

"He's been training really well but we've never pushed him to the levels that you have to play in a 90-minute competitive game, so we won't risk him. He won't be in the squad although he's looking terrific," Merrick said.

"Definitely I'd say next week. We've got 30 rounds and if he tears it again, he'd be out 6-8 weeks. I'd rather have him for 28 rounds then lose him for several weeks."

Merrick's cautious approach with Kruse means Melbourne is unlikely to make any changes to the starting XI it took into the 3-3 draw against Sydney.

"The team did play well last week. I was really happy with the performance. I felt we gifted a couple of goals and then the free kick at the end. But I was really happy playing like that first-uo away from home," Merrick said.

"There will be no changes really. Maybe a squad change or so, but the first XI I can't see changing at all."

Melbourne hammered Perth 6-2 the last time they played in January, but Merrick is well aware this is a very different Glory side, who now have the talent and experience of Robbie Fowler at their disposal.

"There's no game plan for any individual. We've had a video session and looked at how they've played. We've looked more importantly at how we've played. We scored three goals last week, Perth scored three goals last week," he said.

He expects Glory, who have usually been happy enough to defend when playing in Melbourne, to be more adventurous this time around.

"It will be a very open and entertaining game. They look like they will come over here for three points. I think they've got some good players and they play very attacking football. I anticipate they want to play finals this year and that means playing attacking football away from home."

Meanwhile, Merrick revealed he had been stunned by the speed of Archie Thompson's recovery from knee surgery. While not wanting to revise the original plan to have the marquee striker back on the field by Christmas, he said things have been progressing very well and Thompson was ahead of schedule.

"We've said to Archie it would be Christmas but the way he's come on, he's phenomenal. We videotape his training sessions to give him feedback, he doing plyometrics, great weight training, sprinting around the pitch, he's close to 85-90 percent running," Merrick said.

"There's a number of things he has to tick off before we will allow him to come back to training and then when he comes back to training, you never know for them. He's certainly ahead of track."