Muscat to miss again

Melbourne Victory will again be without skipper Kevin Muscat for this weekend's Pre-Season Cup match against Newcastle after the defender failed a fitness test on his injured hamstring.

Melbourne Victory will again be without skipper Kevin Muscat for this weekend's Pre-Season Cup match against Newcastle after the defender failed a fitness test on his injured hamstring.

Muscat only jogged laps at training on Thursday after pulling up sore on Wednesday night. Coach Ernie Merrick said that Muscat was still on track to play in Round 1 against Sydney, but that he wasn't ready to take the field in Port Macquarie on Saturday.

"Kevin didn't pass his fitness test. There's a bit of tightness there and we don't see it's worth the risk," Merrick said.

"I'm not playing down the Pre-Season Cup, it's very important for us to get a winning attitude as we've said that from the outset. But for Kevin, it's too high a risk, when it could affect him. If he tears it again, he'll be out six to eight weeks, and on this occasion, it's only two to three weeks."

But the coach is not worried about his skipper fitting back into a defence which is looking quite settled despite personnel changes in the off-season.

"There's been no change in structure, there's just been personnel changes, and greater depth," he said.

"In the backline, this shows why we signed someone of the quality of Michael Thwaite. He can play right back or centre back. When Kevin's out, he comes in and joins Rody Vargas and last week he did a fantastic job."

Merrick's main concern is with his three players on yellow cards. Ney Fabiano, Danny Allsopp and Jose Luis Lopez have all received cautions in the opening two games and another yellow would see them suspended for either the Pre-Season Cup final, if Victory should make it, or the opening round of the season.

"The biggest concern is there's been 37 yellow cards in eight matches of the Pre-Season cup and we've got three key players ... on yellow cards," he said. "That's a major concern for me, and no doubt it's a major concern for the all the coaches."

Merrick said he would start both his strikers despite the fact they are on cautions, while he will likely bring Nathan Elasi into his squad. He will decide closer to game day who he leaves out.

Allsopp admitted that the thought of a second yellow card, and a subsequent suspension, is in the back of his mind.

"It is there. We know we have to be careful. Unfortunately, we can't afford to get another one but personally, I played through most of the Champions League, sitting in the same position. I just have to be careful, because the most important thing is Sydney in the first game of the season," he said.