Ricardinho set to start

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is banking on Ricardinho to help ease the absence left by top marksman Robbie Kruse.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is banking on Ricardinho to help ease the absence left by top marksman Robbie Kruse.

With Kruse in Qatar on Asian Cup duty, Merrick has included the Brazilian forward into his starting line-up for Wednesday night's Hyundai A-League clash against Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand.

"We're not going to change our attacking outlook and I'll be starting him (Ricardinho) with Robbie unavailable," Merrick said.

"We want workers in our team and mobility from our strikers, and fitness-wise he's very good, having had three games off the bench since returning from injury."

Ricardinho has been preferred to Danny Allsopp, who is on the bench for his first game back at the club he scored 36 goals in 89 appearances for from 2005/06 to 2009/10.

"Dan's been training very well, but he's not match-fit and he'll start off the bench," Merrick said.

"We're a bit spoiled with the depth we've got (in the squad) at the moment, we have a number of attacking options and Carlos Hernandez plays like a striker anyway."

Merrick revealed that inspirational captain Kevin Muscat had been rested for the match, going home to Melbourne while the rest of the Victory squad jetted to New Zealand after their New Year's Eve 2-1 win over Central Coast in Gosford.

"We've got three games in the space of the week and for a 37-year-old, (resting Muscat) is the responsible thing to do," Merrick said.

"He'll definitely be back for the Adelaide game."

Muscat's absence means a change in formation to a back four for the Victory with Adrian Leijer and Rodrigo Vargas filling central roles.

But as Merrick explained, it won't mean a change in the bold approach which has seen Victory win four successive matches, including that stirring comeback triumph over the Mariners.

"There's no doubt momentum builds confidence, we're working hard and having that attacking frame of mind has been important for us," Merrick said.

"We encourage our players to have an attacking spirit and it's just not the frontline players who score goals for us as evidenced by Diogo Ferreira and Grant Brebner scoring against the Mariners."

The Victory boast an impressive overall record against the Phoenix, losing just one of their 11 all-time matches.

But that also includes six draws, two of which have occurred this season and Merrick wants to come away from Westpac Stadium with three points, not one.

"We've had 0-0 and 2-2 draws against Wellington, so we are pretty keen to break the deadlock, we're certainly here for a win," Merrick said.