Muscat hole yet to be filled

Archie Thompson has admitted that despite Melbourne Victory's rich array of attacking stars, replacing Kevin Muscat is the toughest task for incoming coach Mehmet Durakovic.

Archie Thompson has admitted that despite Melbourne Victory's rich array of attacking stars, replacing Kevin Muscat is the toughest task for incoming coach Mehmet Durakovic.

Muscat has taken up an assistant coaching role with Victory, helping Durakovic through his inaugural campaign. But Thompson has conceded that filling the breach has been the biggest issue at the club in the off-season.

"I probably didn't realise how important he was until the first few games of the pre-season where we just missed that good quality pass out of defence, which helps us turn into attack," he said.

"I think Adrian Leijer's been working on his game, Rody (Vargas) is always strong. We're still strong, but you miss Kevin. We will hopefully find someone to fill that gap."

But Thompson thinks Muscat will make a considerable impression as part of the coaching staff and hopes that can fast-track the development of young talent like Petar Franjic.

"We're used to him barking at us when he's playing. His transition from being a player to a coach, he was always destined. We've all got a high regard for him, he's a leader on and off the pitch as a player or a coach," he said.

But while the defence are still adapting to the absence of their inspirational leader, up front it's a battle royal for spots with incumbents Carlos Hernandez, Danny Allsopp and Thompson himself challenged by new signings Jean Carlos Solorzano, Harry Kewell, Marco Rojas and Isaka Cenrak for a spot in the XI.

But rather than feeling the pressure, Thompson believes the arrival of Kewell and the others can only benefit his game.

"It's taken a little bit of pressure off myself. He (Kewell) is used to that pressure and we're going to help him anyway we can relieve some of that on the pitch and off the pitch. When you are a superstar like that, it comes with the territory. We're just going to help him slot in. He's just one of the lads," he said.

"Our forward stocks are pretty phenomenal. We've got six or seven players where a lot of teams would like to have one of them."

"When you look at Marco Rojas, next to Robbie Kruse, he's the most exciting players I've ever seen. I don't want to put him under too much wraps, but he's a huge talent."

"We've got Cernak, Solorzano, Danny is looking sharp, Harry, we're excited."