Kruse stakes claim to fill injured Toivonen’s role as Victory striker
Robbie Kruse admits he has big boots to fill in captain Ola Toivonen’s absence but believes he can flourish as Melbourne Victory’s new number nine.
The 75-cap Socceroos illuminated the 4-0 thumping of Newcastle Jets, scoring the opener and having a hand in each of the following three goals at AAMI Park.
Marco Kurz’s side climbed to seventh in the Hyundai A-League ladder after sealing back-to-back wins for the first time this season despite losing Swedish marquee striker Toivonen to a reported hip flexor strain in the 2-1 Christmas Derby triumph against Melbourne City.
Victory hardly missed their talismanic forward in the emphatic win and Kruse is confident he aced his audition to lead the line for Kurz in the coming weeks .
“Ola [Toivonen] went down in the Derby. He’s a massive loss for us. He’s our captain and he’s scored a lot of goals for us,” Kruse told FOX Sports post-match.
“He’s a different kind of presence to me. I’m not the type to win headers or hold the ball up as well as him with my back to play.
“My game is different and I felt I got in the pockets and turned players and helped create a few goals and got one myself.
“I felt really comfortable in the number nine spot. I always felt it was a position I could of adapted to.”
“I really wanted to showcase my abilities and I fortunately I did that.”
He added: “I was up front and my job was to create goals and score them and fortunately I did that.
“We’ve been saying to get on a run. We did that and we back up the derby and now we go away to the [Central Coast] Mariners looking for three on the trot.”
Kruse's shots, assists and key passes in the 4-0 pounding of the Newcastle Jets
Andrew Nabbout netted his third goal of the season since returning to Victory in the off-season. That move followed a spell in Japan which was earned during a prolific stint with the Jets, where he scored 45 Hyundai A-League goals across two campaigns.
Nabbout heaped praise on his teammate Kruse, who provided the assist for the goal against his former club, and insists Victory are primed to keep this strong run of form going despite Toivonen being sidelined for an undisclosed period.
“Ola [Toivonen]’s world class and we just had to put our head down, make do with the players we had available and Kruse’s did an unbelievable job up there,” Nabbout said.
“I think we took a lot of positives from the City game. I think we started off with a real intensity and I think we did the same [against Jets].
“We put them on the back foot early, especially with Kruse’s running behind and the goal.
“We just tried to do some of the same and this gets the ball rolling. Hopefully we can take more confidence and build on this.”
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Victory
Sunday, 12 January 2020
Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 6pm AEDT