Melbourne Victory captain Mark Milligan believes his club's annual trip to Tasmania is the ideal way to finish pre-season, as it allows the team to iron out any last-minute kinks and help bed-in some new faces.
This year is the seventh in a row that Victory have spent a part of their pre-season in Tasmania and Milligan likes how it has evolved into a final intensive period - away from the spotlight of Melbourne, allowing the team to gel just before the Hyundai A-League kicks off.
Milligan and Co. face Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2014-15 A-League opener on October 10 and with Daniel Georgievski and Fahid Ben Khalfallah having only joined Kevin Muscat's squad in the past few weeks, Victory's trip away will be critical to how they start the campaign.
"It's perfect timing. We've had a few new boys come in over the last week or two and it's a really good chance for us to get together and they can learn the ways of the team, I guess, and we can get to know them a little bit better," Milligan said on Thursday.
"You've got to get as much information and fitness into them as quickly as possible because we are so close [to the season]."
Victory will take on Sydney FC in Hobart on Sunday, while their Foxtel National Youth League team will face a select XI from the Tasmanian state league.
Coach Muscat claimed the importance of the Tasmanian tour is underlined by the fact it will be his last chance to see Victory play Hyundai A-League opposition before the competition begins.
"We've been relatively pleased with how we've been going and progressing, and Sunday gives us another opportunity to take another step in the right direction and that's what we aim to do," he said.
Speaking after it was announced that Milligan will be a part of Ange Postecoglou's Socceroos squad for next month's friendlies versus the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, the Victory midfielder insisted Australia's national team must start earning results rather than just showing improvement.
Australia have only won two of nine matches under Postecoglou but up against fellow Asian teams, Milligan wants to see the Socceroos make a statement ahead of next year's AFC Asian Cup on home soil.
"It's really time that we start galvanising as a team, we have high expectations come January, being at home, hoping to play in front of some big crowds and - again - at the last Asian Cup, we fell just short," he said.
"So we definitely want to make up for that."
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