Sick Brebner to play
Midfield anchor man Grant Brebner is the latest victim of the flu bug that has swept through Hyundai A-League leaders Melbourne Victory.
Midfield anchor man Grant Brebner is the latest victim of the flu bug that has swept through Hyundai A-League leaders Melbourne Victory leaving the veteran Scotsman struggling to be fit for Friday night's top-of-the-table clash against Central Coast at Telstra Dome.
While Victory coach Ernie Merrick said on Thursday that he was confident the 30-year-old will play against the second-placed Mariners, he conceded he would be struggling to see out the full 90 minutes.
"Brebner has got the dreaded bug that everyone else has caught in our team," Merrick revealed after training on Thursday.
"At this stage it's only a gastro type thing, he is struggling to keep food down but he hasn't got a fever."
"I am pretty certain he will start and if Grant plays for 90 minutes that is fantastic but if it less than that then we still have some good players on the bench."
Brebner is the latest in a long line of Victory players and officials to fall victim to the lurgy that has gone through the club with defender Matthew Kemp bravely playing with the bug during the club's last outing in Queensland.
Kemp lost some 4kg during that win but has since recovered while star strikers Archie Thompson and Daniel Allsopp, Costa Rican international Jose Luiz Lopez, skipper Kevin Muscat and even chief executive Geoff Miles have also recently recovered from a similar virus.
However Brebner and the unavailability of Lopez due to international duty is the only concern for Merrick heading into the Victory's third top of the table showdown in just four matches following the recent home loss to Sydney and then a thrilling 3-2 victory on the road against Asian Champions' League finalists Adelaide.
Melbourne has been on top of the ladder for all but two rounds this season but second place has constantly rotated and now it is Lawrie McKinna's side that is shaping as the Victory's number one challengers this season having leapfrogged Adelaide into second place with last week's 3-0 win over the Reds.
And while Merrick is respectful of the Mariners' powerful front three of leading Hyundai A-League scorer Matt Simon as well as Dylan Macallister and Sasho Petrovski, Melbourne's attack is finally back to full strength with Costa Rican international Carlos Hernandez to resume against the Mariners having been sidelined for nearly a month with a torn quad.
That means Merrick finally has his four best attacking players in Hernandez, Thompson, Allsopp and Brazilian Ney Fabiano all available at the same time after having had just Allsopp for that recent win in Adelaide.
And as a result Merrick is forecasting a high-scoring, attacking game between the league's highest scoring team (the Mariners) and the equal second highest scoring team so far this season.
"It will be a game of two sets of strikers that will really have a go at the goalkeepers," Merrick said.