Melbourne Victory could hand Mark Milligan an immediate return to the starting XI against Adelaide United, with Kevin Muscat keen not to 'punish' the captain for representing his country.Milligan missed the opening match of the season, a thumping 4-1 win over Western Sydney, through international duty, the hard-working midfielder starting the Socceroos' 0-0 draw against the United Arab Emirates last Saturday morning.
However, the 28-year-old sat out Australia's 1-0 loss to Qatar on Wednesday morning and has impressed back in training with his club, putting Carl Valeri and Leigh Broxham's places in the starting XI under threat, despite their impressive performances against the Wanderers.
"We'll assess him, he's looked good this morning, to be honest," Muscat told reporters on Thursday.
"He flew in last night, he didn't play in the last game (against Qatar). He's fine, he's healthy. He looked nice and sharp but a decision won't be made until later on tonight or possibly even tomorrow morning."
The coach revealed that special arrangements were made to ensure the club's domestic marquee player was back in time to be available for the grudge match with the Reds at Adelaide Oval.
"He made a big effort to get on the plane last night and then get here so he could train this morning," Muscat said.
"It was going to be a struggle to get him on a flight last night but they managed to get a few on. He got back and got a good night's sleep.
"I tried to keep him away from the place, give him the morning off, but he wouldn't have it.
"Millsy's the captain of our football club. We've got to be careful that we don't punish him for going away with the national team also. It's certainly a good headache to have," he added, referring to the decision whether or not to drop Broxham or Valeri.
With Adelaide sharing Victory's taste for possession-based, attacking football, an entertaining contest beckons in South Australia and Muscat hopes the positive mindset of Josep Gombau's team will play into his own side's hands.
"From some aspects you could argue that that helps us," he said when asked about the Reds' aggressive approach.
"We're happy for teams to have a go at us and return fire immediately as well. We'll back ourselves, we've done a lot of work and we feel very comfortable where we sit in terms of our physical condition to go punch for punch with them."
With memories of Victory's thrilling 4-3 win over Adelaide at AAMI Park last season fresh in the mind, the prospect of two exciting teams trading blows again makes for a mouth-watering contest to kick off the second round of the season.