Pre-season key to Victory keeper battle

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick will use the pre-season form of Mitch Langerak and Glen Moss to determine which of his two goalkeepers gets the nod for the season-opener against Central Coast on August 6.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick will use the pre-season form of Mitch Langerak and Glen Moss to determine which of his two goalkeepers gets the nod for the season-opener against Central Coast on August 6.

Merrick has said before that he won't be rotating goalkeepers once the season starts, meaning the player who is selected against the Mariners for the opening game is likely to hold sway for much of the campaign. While that presents a difficult dilemma for Merrick, the Melbourne coach said it's one he is happy to have.

"These are the panadols that I like, the question over who to choose from two very good players. That will be a great competition between Mitch and Mossy, who had a great Confederations Cup," he said.

"In the pre-season we will give them a game each, or half a game each and then I'll make a decision early on."

The departure of Michael Theoklitos has opened the door for the young gun Langerak, considered one of the finest young goalkeepers in the country, and former Phoenix keeper Moss, who has impressed against some of the world's best while playing for New Zealand at the Confederations Cup.

While it has been widely expected since Eugene Galekovic left the club two years ago that Langerak would fill Theoklitos' shoes, Merrick said the pressure was on the 20-year-old to show he was ready to step up.

"Yes it is. And that's that way it is for all the players. It's always tougher for the goalkeepers because there is no other position they can play. It's up to Mitch now. He's only 19-20, he's got plenty of time. So we wouldn't push him that hard. He's enjoying being a regular first team player at the moment," he said.

Langerak made a rare blunder in a tour match on the recent tour of China, misjudging a free kick and letting through a goal. But Merrick said the quality of a keeper wasn't necessarily about the amount of mistakes made, but how a keeper recovers from those errors.

"How they react to errors, especially blatant errors, is a measure of their ability and their confidence. That's what we talk about, how they react to making mistakes during a game," he said.

Skipper Kevin Muscat is not concerned about the Melbourne defence having to adapt to a new keeper. He believes both men have the talent and composure to do the job and the competition between them was good for the defending champions.

"The approach won't change, it just comes down to either one of them two fitting into the team. Both of them are going to have the opportunity to do that," Muscat said.

"The competition for that spot is certainly going to heat up because they are two very good goalkeepers. It's going to be very interesting."

Muscat has not been surprised by Moss' efforts at the Confederations Cup nor the plaudits he has earned for his efforts.

"By all accounts, he's done very well and the three or four weeks he was training with us before going to South Africa, he looked very good as well. It's certainly going to be very tough for either of those two get the nod."

"Mitch is the younger of the two, Mossy is a little bit more experienced and been there and done it. Mitch was brought to this football club with a lot of expectations. He's got that opportunity to step up, but at the same time, Mossy is going to make it very hard for him."