Merrick urges Pim to play Archie

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has urged Socceroos boss Pim Verbeek not to keep overlooking his star striker Archie Thompson for national duty, insisting that Hyundai A-League players can make the step up to international level.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has urged Socceroos boss Pim Verbeek not to keep overlooking his star striker Archie Thompson for national duty, insisting that Hyundai A-League players can make the step up to international level.

Thompson was again overlooked for a place even on the seven-man bench for Wednesday night's World Cup qualifying rout of Qatar despite being one of the in-form players at domestic level.

Verbeek again raised questions about the ability of Hyundai A-League players to make the step up to national level following the Qatar game and it appears only Queensland skipper Craig Moore is guaranteed a place in Verbeek's team from the locally-based players.

But Merrick, whose ladder-leading team heads to Newcastle on Saturday night as the Hyundai A-League resumes after the international break, believes it is only a matter of time before Thompson forces his way into Verbeek's team.

"We are getting mixed messages because (former Socceroos goalkeeper and now commentator) Mark Bosnich is so impressed with the quality of the A-League but Pim doesn't appear to be impressed at the moment," Merrick said after Victory training on Friday.

"But I think Archie Thompson could do a good job for the national team for the Socceroos."

Merrick believes Thompson - who turns 30 next week and has an endured an injury-plagued run at national level - is now a much-improved player.

"The areas he was (previously) flat at were his work rate and his willingness to get to midfield and to then get forward again," Merrick said of the Victory's marquee player.

"But he has been doing that so well (this season), he is scoring goals from the midfield, he can play forward or attacking midfield and he has been outstanding for us and he is having a great year and I think it's just a matter of time before he pushes himself into the Socceroos starting line-up."

While Thompson was again overlooked by the Socceroos this week, Melbourne's Costa Rican international Jose Luiz Lopez faces a marathon trip to be back in time for Saturday's trip to Newcastle.

Lopez played in both of Costa Rica's World Cup qualifiers during the week as it progressed to the final stage of qualifying and as a result is unlikely to feature for Melbourne on Saturday, leaving fit-again Grant Brebner to probably fill the holding midfield role.

"I will find out (how Lopez is) on 2pm on match day because that is when he arrives in Newcastle but we tried to get him back earlier," Merrick said.

"They won their first game really well and that meant Costa Rica qualified for the next round but they still used him in the second half in the second match against Haiti, which they won 2-0, so unfortunately Jose Luiz has played in one-and-a-half games in five days and he has got a 35-hour flight home so he is not looking good for the first 11."

But the Victory has the luxury of being able to rest the tired Lopez as his fellow Costa Rican international Carlos Hernandez did not make the trip but is available to face Newcastle, while keeper Michael Theoklitos is back from suspension and defender Michael Thwaite and midfielder Nick Ward are also fit again.

"We have got 20 of our 22 man squad available so we have got a pretty strong line-up," Merrick said.