Mariners lift for Victory

Melbourne can expect a vastly improved defensive performance when the Central Coast Mariners visit the Telstra Dome for a vital Hyundai A-League contest on Friday night.

Melbourne can expect a vastly improved defensive performance when the Central Coast Mariners visit the Telstra Dome for a vital Hyundai A-League contest on Friday night.

The Mariners leaked goals in a disappointing 4-3 defeat against Queensland at Gosford last week with coach Lawrie McKinna critical of the team's defence.

He was not signalling out defenders, pointing to a poor defensive effort across the park.

A similar effort on Friday will see the title-chasing Victory cash in.

But McKinna is adamant his fourth-placed team will lift for one of the most important games of the season.

"From our goalkeeper to our attackers last week's performance was not good enough," McKinna said.

"You have to defend as a team and we didn't do that last week. It's something we've talked about at training and I'm confident we'll be much stronger against Melbourne."

"Everyone has to get stuck in and be switched on against them, especially at their home ground."

McKinna has taken an extended squad to Melbourne with former Adelaide midfielder Greg Owens on the verge of his first taste of Hyundai A-League this season.

After some strong showings in the National Youth League Owens is desperate to prove he still has what it takes to compete at the top level.

Lanky defender Paul O'Grady has also been added to the squad with utility Matthew Osman ruled out with a hip injury.

McKinna is not expected to finalise his squad for the crunch match until later on Friday.