Melbourne Victory head to the Central Coast looking for a third straight Hyundai A-League win but they do so without captain Ola Toivonen.
Victory coped without the Swedish marquee forward against Newcastle Jets last week, as Toivonen served a one-match suspension during the 4-0 win.
The 33-year-old could have returned to Marco Kurz’s side for the Round 14 tilt against Alen Stajcic’s Mariners on Sunday but he has been ruled out with a groin strain.
Toivonen aggregated the injury in the Round 11 Christmas Derby against cross-town rivals Melbourne City after scoring twice in the 2-1 win.
Robbie Kruse stepped into the number nine role in his absence against the Jets and scored once and had a hand in the other three goals as the Navy Blue produced their best performance of the season at AAMI Park.
Toivonen trained at Gosch’s Paddock on Friday and Kurz is keen to concentrate on getting his star striker fit and firing for the Round 15 Original Rivalry clash against Adelaide United.
“Ola is not available, he is still in the rehab process that means the progression is well, but not good enough to start or to play,” Kurz told melbournevictory.com.au
“If it was a final we would risk it but it’s good to take care and make him fit for the game in Adelaide.
“In sport anything can happen, but it is our goal and it is looking good and that means we have a good chance of him being fit for Adelaide.”
Victory sit seventh in the Hyundai A-League ladder ahead of Round 14, level on points with Adelaide and behind by only one goal difference.
Kurz’s troops travel to face the head coach’s former club at Coopers Stadium in Round 15 on Friday, 17 January. The Reds have already beaten Victory on home soil this season, 3-1, with Riley McGree scoring twice back in Round 7.
Western United FC v Central Coast Mariners
Sunday, 19 January 2020
Kick off: 4pm AEDT
Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory
Friday, 17 January 2020
Kick off: 7pm local, 7.30pm AEDT