Tough times for Victory

Melbourne Victory faces a fresh injury and illness crisis ahead of Wednesday's must-win AFC Champions League clash against Beijing Guoan with Carlos Hernandez and Nick Ward in doubt and Grant Brebner and Tom Pondeljak ruled out.

Melbourne Victory faces a fresh injury and illness crisis ahead of Wednesday's must-win AFC Champions League clash against Beijing Guoan with Carlos Hernandez and Nick Ward in doubt and Grant Brebner and Tom Pondeljak ruled out.

A combination of injuries and illness meant Melbourne trained without eight first-choice players on Tuesday. Hernandez has been floored by a virus and hasn't trained at all, while Ward, who has the same ailment, managed to get through 20 minutes.

Coach Ernie Merrick admits he has a major headache working out who will be available for the crunch match, which Melbourne must win to keep its hopes of making the second round alive.

"It's been a good preparation, but we've had limited players. Now we've been struck with a virus," he said. "We seem to get over one thing and we encounter another."

Complicating things for Merrick is the fact that neither Pondeljak or Brebner, both with hamstring injuries, will play, while central defender Adrian Leijer is suspended.

"We've got Leigh Broxham back from injury and suspension, but we lose Adrian Leijer. But we just keep stepping up to the plate when we've needed to," Merrick added.

Up front, Melbourne is already without Archie Thompson, who has a serious knee injury, while Robbie Kruse is a day-to-day proposition with an ankle issue.

"That ankle injury he got in Round 27 is still grumbling, so he has to miss every second day of training," Merrick said.

Despite Kruse's injury, Merrick expects him to partner Nik Mrdja in attack. However, while a win is all-important, he won't commit to an all out attacking plan.

"Our approach has always been lets attack teams but off a very sound defensive base. You can never throw caution to the wind in any game whether it's the A-League or the ACL," he said.

"I thought we did that well against Kawasaki Frontale. We didn't give much away, but we always looked like we were going to get something out of the game."

"It's a game we have to win. Beijing are on six points, we are on three. If we can win the game, we are equal with them, it gives us a chance. If we don't win or we draw, we don't have a chance of finishing second."

Beijing has no such injury concerns, with coach Hong Yuanshuo saying he has a full squad to pick from.

"We have already played Melbourne once in this competition and that was a close game. But I think will be a much more attacking game," he said through an interpreter.

Beijing's Australian striker Joel Griffiths is relishing the prospect of locking horns with Melbourne once again, having played the Victory many times when he was with the Newcastle Jets.

"I think it's not going to be easy. We know pretty much what Melbourne can do, especially in Melbourne. They'll be very confident I think going into Wednesday's clash, but we are as well," he said.

"I think it will be a little bit of cat and mouse as well. There's plenty of tactics at play and Melbourne have to win and we know that and we are confident in what we can do."