No Thwaite, no worries for Victory

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick is confident his side can cover the absences of Michael Thwaite and Jose Luis Lopez in Friday's crucial Hyundai A-League match against Adelaide.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick is confident his side can cover the absences of Michael Thwaite and Jose Luis Lopez in Friday's crucial Hyundai A-League match against Adelaide.

Thwaite left training early on Thursday nursing his injured ankle and Merrick said that he was no chance to play along with Lopez, who is on international duty, and Nick Ward, who has reinjured his calf muscle.

"Thwaitey won't play. He is almost there but pulled up a bit sore and couldn't get through training." Merrick said. "Wardy has re-injured his calf and that will mean he will miss another two weeks."

Ward, the Victory's under-23 marquee player, is yet to play this season, after suffering the injury in the Pre-Season Cup. While concerns remain over his fitness, the fact he is unavailable this week does not provide Merrick with same selection headache as the loss of Thwaite and Lopez as he hasn't been in the squad.

The Melbourne coach was confident that Sebastian Ryall would be able to fill Thwaite's shoes in a central back three alongside Rody Vargas and Kevin Muscat, but replacing Lopez is a harder job.

"Sebastian plays well alongside Rody and Kevin. Kevin's a great mentor for him, and he loves playing that role alongside those other two," he said.

"We haven't decided yet on the defensive midfield role, we could use Billy Celeski, Leigh Broxham or Grant Brebner."

The set-up of the midfield would also depend on whether Melbourne opts for four attacking players, Carlos Hernandez, Archie Thompson, Danny Allsopp and Ney Fabiano.

"We have to make the call of whether we play the four hooligans up front," he said. "It depends on how we feel the match will develop. But it's a great advantage to have so many attacking options."

Merrick agreed that with both Adelaide and Melbourne having such strong starts to the season, this looms as a six-point match.

"They are the only team to have beaten us in seven games," he said in reference to the 2-1 defeat Victory suffered in the Pre-Season Cup in Launceston. "They scored the winner in the 89th minute and there was a sense of disappointment about that."

"There is no doubt that Sydney, Adelaide and us have made good start to the season and any points against those two other teams will be very valuable this season," he said.