Muscat takes a break

Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat has been given a break by the club to contemplate his future.

Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat has been given a break by the club to contemplate his future.

Muscat was handed an eight-match suspension by the Football Federation Australia disciplinary committee on Thursday for his crude tackle on Melbourne Heart winger Adrian Zahra.

Whether the ban would spell the end of a career that has featured 51 Socceroos caps, 122 Victory games and stints at Crystal Palace, Wolves, Glasgow Rangers and Millwall is something the club won't press the 37-year-old veteran about.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's clash against Gold Coast United at AAMI Park, Victory coach Ernie Merrick revealed Muscat was spending some time away from the club.

"We've given him a bit of a break, then we'll get together and have a chat about what's going to happen moving forward from here," Merrick said.

"It's (his playing future) not something I want to speculate on, I'll leave that until I've had a discussion with Kevin down the track."

Merrick said Victory had no issue with the severity of the penalty handed out by the FFA, adding the club will "move on from there."

Asked about Muscat's reaction to the ban, Merrick said: "Obviously Kevin's hurt by the situation, but he's accepted it and taken it on the chin."

The coach instead has his sights on a date with the Gold Coast that comes at a time when Victory are in good spirits following their 3-0 midweek win over cellar-dwellers North Queensland Fury in Townsville.

"I was very impressed with the way the boys played, it's not easy to go up there, they had nothing to lose and threw numbers forward," Merrick said.

"We were under pressure, they are a tough team to play against when they have their tales up. But we hung in there, defended well, I thought our goalkeeper Michael Petkovic, Roddy Vargas and Adrian Leijer were first-class."

"Grant Brebner was really good in the middle, that first goal from Danny Allsopp gives him three in three games, then Mate Dugandzic came on (to get two goals) and should have scored three."

"It was a really good result for us given the circumstances and the number of games we have to play (four in 11 days)."

The success over North Queensland was Victory's first in five games, but in good news for the Melbournians they have lost just two of their past 12 matches, a period where they have missed key players such as Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse.

That means Victory sits fifth on the A-League table on 37 points from 27 matches, five points behind fourth-placed Gold Coast, who has two games in hand on the Melbourne club.

"There's no doubt they're a good team, fighting for second or third spot, Gold Coast are always a challenge," Merrick said.

"But we feel as we're playing some good football as well, we're building up some consistency and momentum. It's really about what we do and not so much about what the opposition offer up."

In team news, Victory has promoted two-goal Townsville hero Mate Dugandzic into the starting line-up with Billy Celeski out due to a hip injury, while Matthew Kemp comes in for Evan Berger and Petar Franjic is pressing for a starting berth.

Adrian Leijer will captain Victory in Muscat's absence, while Vargas becomes plays his 250th national league game against United.

It is a double milestone for Vargas, who played 127 games for the Melbourne Knights in the old National Soccer League, as he will pass Muscat's games record at Victory.