Vargas forecast improves

Rody Vargas' prospects of playing in Melbourne's first major semi-final against Sydney on Thursday have improved greatly with the defender now rated a 60-40 chance to take his spot in the starting line-up.

Rody Vargas' prospects of playing in Melbourne's first major semi-final against Sydney on Thursday have improved greatly with the defender now rated a 60-40 chance to take his spot in the starting line-up.

Vargas is believed to have a small tear at the top of calf muscle which is causing him knee soreness and the Victory will give him until just before the game to decide if he wants to take his place.

"Rody Vargas is a decision we are going to make the day of the game and we will have a player on standby. He's actually feeling quite good Rody, and he's one of the few players who can play with injuries and after 27 rounds, you'd expect a few of them to have those," coach Ernie Merrick said.

"Bearing in mind that last season he played every minute of every game last season as did Kevin Muscat. He's 60-40, I've pencilled him in and I don't have a rubber. If he brings a rubber, that's up to him."

Merrick seemed unconcerned by the spate of injuries which have befallen his club in recent weeks, with regular starters Archie Thompson, Robbie Kruse and Matthew Kemp all out of Thursday's match.

He would rather focus on the players coming back into the squad, including skipper Muscat and youngster Mate Dugandzic.

"We've got some good players coming back into the squad. Kevin Muscat will be back into the first XI, so will Surat Sukha. We've got young Mate Dugandzic coming in. He's ready to go," he said.

Melbourne, which has never lost a final, goes into Thursday's match at Etihad Stadium as underdog having lost to Sydney in two of three matches this season and having not scored against the Sky Blues in 270 minutes.

But Merrick has backed his club's prolific scoring record this season and believes it has the necessary firepower, even without two of its top three scorers of the season, to break down Sydney's defence.

"Our focus at training this week has been all about what we do in the front third. Given that we've got a slightly different line-up up there and we've got the ability to do that our focus has been on attacking play in the front third," he said.

"We have to play better and we have to score goals, especially in the first leg of a major semi-final, you've got to score goals."

"We've got tremendous attacking midfield players who like to get forward, Angulo, Ward, Pondeljak, Hernandez. It's easy to take a couple of game in isolation. Don't forget we've scored 47 goals this year. That's a record. There's been a range of players who have scored those goals."