Muscat 50-50 for Phoenix

Melbourne Victory skipper Kevin Muscat is only rated a 50-50 chance to play in Sunday's match against Wellington at Etihad Stadium, with the club to give the veteran defender until the last minute to prove he has recovered from the hamstring injury which has ruined the start of his season.

Melbourne Victory skipper Kevin Muscat is only rated a 50-50 chance to play in Sunday's match against Wellington at Etihad Stadium, with the club to give the veteran defender until the last minute to prove he has recovered from the hamstring injury which has ruined the start of his season.

Muscat, who hasn't played since suffering the injury in the opening match against Central Coast, trained for a full session on Friday, playing in a back three alongside Rody Vargas and Adrian Leijer. But coach Ernie Merrick said he would not take any risks on Muscat's fitness.

"Last week, I said it was 40-60, it's 50-50 now. We never make a decision to the last minute, he trained very well out there and we'll see how we comes up tomorrow. We won't make a decision until the last moment," he said.

"I don't think anyone comes off an injury after four or five weeks and is 100 percent when he steps onto the pitch. As long as his injury is completely right, that's our main aim."

The Victory have no great need to rush Muscat back for this match considering the performance of Leijer since his return from Fulham. But Merrick denies that is a major consideration and believes all three central defenders can play in the same line-up.

"Bear in mind in season two, we won the league with those guys. That's how we played, with three at the back. Season four, it was slightly different. It's about maximising who you've got. To have Kevin back in the squad would be tremendous not only for his skill but his leadership. But with or without him, we've worked a lot on our structure and I don't think that will be a major problem," he said.

Robbie Kruse arrived for his first training session with his new club after his surprise move from Brisbane was announced on Thursday. Merrick initially thought that the 20-year-old would not have had enough preparation ahead of the Wellington game, but an impressive showing on the training track on Friday may have changed his mind.

"It's a straightforward process to clear him, but we haven't decided on a final squad yet. But he'll be in and around the final squad. I'm not sure if he'll be listed," he said. "We were very impressed with Robbie in his first session. He's just got off a plane last night and he was outstanding."

"I was certainly thinking that he's switched from his club, he had to move down last night, he might not be fresh. He might feel a lot of pressure in the first home game. Being a 20-year-old, I was thinking maybe not."

"But having seen him perform out there and listened to the senior players, there's a good chance he'll be involved in some way shape or form. He's made a big impact already."

Kruse's debut on Sunday may depend on the availability of Carlos Hernandez, who returns from international duty with Costa Rica on the eve of the game.

"I'm not sure when Carlos gets back in, but he may be another option if he comes in tomorrow morning and is fresh off the plane. It's good to have players like him back," Merrick said.

Meanwhile, Merrick confirmed that Kruse is likely to play more of an out and out striker role at Melbourne rather than the wide attacking spot he filled in his time with the Roar.

"We would play him in a different role than the Roar played him. That's not putting down the Roar. They play the way, they have to play. We've got a different role for him. Gary (Cole) and Aaron (Healey) and I have been scouting him for a couple of years. We're very fortunate in signing him. He'll be in a more attacking role, and may be not standing too wide," he said.