Set-piece Thwaite and see

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has pin-pointed set pieces as a key area of improvement this season and he may have found his target man in Michael Thwaite, while Evan Berger has put his hand up as the man to deliver the goods.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has pin-pointed set pieces as a key area of improvement this season and he may have found his target man in Michael Thwaite, while Evan Berger has put his hand up as the man to deliver the goods.

The Victory struggled from free kicks and corners last year, scoring few goals and Merrick and his staff have been working hard in the off-season to increase the scoring opportunities from that key area.

Thwaite scored in Saturday's Pre-Season Cup match against Perth, latching onto a well-taken Berger free kick to head home what proved the winner. The on-loan defender said it was particularly pleasing to have such a good outcome so early in the new campaign.

"We have a bit of height at the back, but Ernie's been stressing about our lack of goals from free kicks. I think once we just get our timing right," he said.

"Obviously it was a very decent ball by Ev. I just had to work on getting in front of the goalkeeper. I guess it was good timing. It was just a really great ball. We've really been working hard on set pieces, because we only scored two last season. I think the coaches were really happy that we've been working on them at training," he said.

"We're just working hard on finding our positions with our partners at the front post and the second post. I'm glad to see it works well."

Thwaite is a big wrap for Berger, who has created quite a stir in the pre-season with strong performances against Adelaide and Perth.

"He's obviously a very talented young player. I think he's just got to keep his head on the ground and keep his position. And once again timing. He's got a great ball and a good work ethic and that's important," he said.

Thwaite was very happy with how he and his teammates performed in the match against the Glory. He feels that despite the fact he is one of several new arrivals at the club, the team are gelling really well.

"I think the first half (against Perth) really demonstrated what we can do in the season, and obviously when (Jose Luis) Lopez went off in the second half, we lacked a bit of control in the midfield," he said.

"I think it was a really great test for us defensively. It's good to keep a clean sheet, especially after their attacking plays. I think Perth did well to come back, but it showed good character that we were able to hold out."

Up the other end of the pitch, Michael Theoklitos will return for Saturday's match against Newcastle in Port Macquarie. Nursing a sore elbow, the Victory No.1 sat out of the game against Perth, but can't wait to get back in the thick of the action against the Jets.

"The elbow's alright, I'm intact, it's all good," he said. "It's important for everyone to get a run. Young Mitch was going to always play as well. It's just about the whole team and getting them a run."