No excuses for Merrick

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick says there are 'no excuses' for his side not to perform at its best in Friday night's testing Hyundai A-League road trip to Adelaide despite admitting on Thursday he has never seen his side's attacking options so depleted.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick says there are 'no excuses' for his side not to perform at its best in Friday night's testing Hyundai A-League road trip to Adelaide despite admitting on Thursday he has never seen his side's attacking options so depleted.

Last week Melbourne suffered its third defeat in four matches with a 2-0 home loss to Sydney and fell to third on the table, surrendering top spot to Adelaide. The Victory now face a trip to Hindmarsh Stadium without suspended strikers Archie Thompson and Ney Fabiano as well as its best attacking midfielder in Carlos Hernandez and back-up striker Nathan Elasi.

Hernandez is out for up to a month with a quad injury while Elasi is off with the Young Socceroos leaving Danny Allsopp as the Victory's only recognised striker.

With Costa Rican international Hernandez now also sidelined, Merrick's only option on Friday night is to play veteran midfielder Tom Pondeljak up front alongside Allsopp to try and boost an attack that has failed to score in three of the past four matches.

But despite his team's problems, Merrick won't hear of Melbourne being uncompetitive against the Asian Champions League finalists - who are shaping up for their 11th match in 50 days on Friday night.

"As far as striking options it is (the most depleted we have ever been) but it is not an excuse," Merrick warned on Thursday.

"We have still got a rock solid defence and we have got a very strong midfield and we can play a couple of midfielders up forward to support Daniel and they are experienced players who will be able to do the job."

"So there are no excuses whatsoever."

Merrick described Friday night's game as the classic "six point game" given just three points separates the old rivals on the table with Sydney FC sandwiched in between the two in second place.

"If they win they go six points in front of us but if we win we go back to the top of the league so we know it's an important game and the attitude amongst the players this week in training has been outstanding."

However while Merrick is delighted with the way his players have responded on the training pitch, after he questioned the attitude of his team during last week's disappointing home loss against Sydney, he is not buying into the theory that Adelaide's recent heavy playing schedule - following their stunning progression to the Asian Champions' League Final - could leave the Reds vulnerable on Friday night.

"We know their schedule has been tough but they are coping with it really well and they will be a strong team again," he said.

"They are playing at home and they are on a high so I think this will be the first time we have been underdogs all season."