No Archie for derby

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has ruled out striker Archie Thompson making an appearance in Saturday's must-win derby against Melbourne Heart.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has ruled out striker Archie Thompson making an appearance in Saturday's must-win derby against Melbourne Heart.

Thompson has been recovering from a hamstring injury and despite training strongly during the week, was not named in the squad on Thursday. Merrick said the Victory won't risk his long-term fitness and will give him another week to make sure he is right.

"Archie won't be playing, we've got enough games coming up to give him an opportunity, but he won't be playing this game. Neither will Adrian Leijer, but the good news is Matthew Kemp is looking good to return and Kevin (Muscat) is back," he said.

"There are two additions to a good second-half performance against Sydney,"

Merrick said he has every confidence with the strikers he has at his disposal in the absence of first choice strike duo Thompson and Robbie Kruse, who is with the national team in Qatar. Mate Dugandzic is likely to get a rare start.

"We've coped for just about the whole season without Robbie or Archie, we've got more than enough firepower up front provided we get the service from the midfield," he said.

Heart coach John van 't Schip expects to have close to a full squad available, despite the fact his team has had a short back-up from Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Gold Coast at AAMI Park.

"We've had a different approach than the Victory, because we've had a few days less to prepare for this game. We've had to wait until Wednesday to see how the players pulled up after that game. It looks very good," he said.

"Today we had a session and everybody was sharp. I'm reasonably okay with how we've pulled up, I think everybody will be fit for the game tomorrow."

While Victory are missing two of their most exciting players, Heart have Alex Terra, who has proven a key over the past few games, scoring a terrific goal against Perth and then getting his name on the scoresheet again on Wednesday. Van 't Schip sees the Brazilian as providing a real x-factor in the game.

"Alex is in very good shape and very good form. He's scored two good goals in the last two games. For his confidence, this is good. He hasn't had a lot of luck this season with injuries, he seems okay. He can make something out of nothing and is a fantastic guy and a fantastic player who gives us something different."

Veteran midfielder Josip Skoko will return to the starting line-up after sitting out mid-week, while van 't Schip believes John Aloisi should be fine to play some part having come on for the final 30 minutes against Gold Coast.

"We know that we have a few players coming back from a long period of injury. We've had to manage them already. With John, we know he can't play three games in a row. We needed him for Wednesday, and he did well and is okay for tomorrow. We'll have the strongest possible team on the pitch," he said.