Nik's off to Melbourne

Melbourne has moved quickly to relieve the striking crisis left by the injury to Archie Thompson, signing Central Coast striker Nik Mrdja on a six-month deal.

Melbourne has moved quickly to relieve the striking crisis left by the injury to Archie Thompson, signing Central Coast striker Nik Mrdja on a six-month deal.

Thompson is set to miss the next month with a broken bone in his foot, while Robbie Kruse is struggling with a shoulder injury, leaving Melbourne short of firepower at the business end of the Hyundai A-League season and at the start of its Asian Champions League campaign.

Once it became apparent that Thompson would be missing for a decent chunk of time, the club approached Central Coast with a loan offer for the experienced striker who comes in as an injury replacement player for Billy Celeski.

The 31-year-old is a chance to start in Friday night's clash against North Queensland at Etihad Stadium.

"This is a great opportunity for Nik to join us for the last two rounds of the Hyundai A-League season, the finals series and the ACL," Melbourne Victory Football Operations Manager Gary Cole said.

"While we think this is the deepest squad that we've ever had with great youth and experience, having another striking option is fantastic and gives us a really nice balance."

"The news we had yesterday about Archie was a concern and with Robbie's shoulder also a concern, we moved to sign Nik, who is big, tall, strong and quick and in very good form at the moment, having scored six goals this season."

"Nik will fly into Melbourne today and because of circumstance should find himself at least on the bench tonight against North Queensland."

Mrdja will return to the Mariners for the start of the 2010-22 season, and said he was glad to have an opportunity to play more football after a horrendous run with injuries.

"I have been really happy with the way I have playing, but as a footballer you always want to be at the top of your game, and getting regular game time over the next few months will help me get to where I want to be," he said.

"The last Asian Champions League campaign was a great experience and I can't wait to be a part of it again, while at the same time, I'm keen to continue what I have started here at the Mariners."

Mrdja has made one appearance for Australia in 2007 and has played 17 matches for the Mariners this season, the most in his five years at the club.

Meanwhile, Melbourne defender Steven Pace has been granted an early release by the club.