Victory can cover losses

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is confident his side has the depth to overcome a mounting injury list and a busy schedule over the next month.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is confident his side has the depth to overcome a mounting injury list and a busy schedule over the next month.

After an indifferent start to the season, the Victory finally appeared their straps recently with long-term injury victims Archie Thompson and Matthew Kemp returning to the side. They are unbeaten in five matches and have won their past two with impressive performances against the Heart and Perth.

But last week against the Glory, Thompson (hamstring) and Kemp (groin) both picked up injuries that will keep them sidelined for the next month and two weeks respectively. On top of that, defender Surat Sukha tore his calf at training on Sunday.

The timing couldn't be worse for Merrick with the Victory set to play four matches in the next fortnight and eight by the end of January.

But the veteran coach named six players that are pushing for senior selection to fill the void.

"We're traveling well, the slight problem is we have is we've got four players out from the starting XI from last week through either injury or suspension," Merrick told Sportal on Sunday.

"Surat tore his calf at training, so both the full-backs that came in - Kempy and Surat - are both out now and the other one's a suspension and that's Grant Brebner."

"The good news is we've got five players returning and pushing for selection. Up front Tommy Pondeljak, Ricardinho and Mate Dugandzic are all pushing for a first XI spot. In midfield we've got Billy Celeski and Leigh Broxham returning and Evan Berger's been training really well for a full-back spot so we've got six players pushing to get into the first XI and that's the depth of our squad."

The Victory's busy schedule begins with a Monday night showdown against Newcastle at AAMI Park. With the Jets just one point behind the six-placed Victory a win would give last season's runners-up some much needed breathing space in the top six.

"Every game for us is a big game, especially when they're so many teams just on the edge of the finals group and we're very much focused again on winning and taking three points rather than worrying about the fact that we've got seven games in a month," Merrick said.

"We've got depth, we've got players returning and it's all about playing the type of football that gets us the three points and not worrying about the fact that the consequences of losing."

"I hope it's a big crowd, our crowd have been fantastic at AAMI Park and we're hoping a good crowd behind us and we hope to deliver the sort of football we've give the last two or three weeks."

New 'recruit' Danny Allsopp, who is back at Melbourne after a stint in America, completed his first training session on Sunday and Merrick revealed that the signing couldn't have come at a better time for the team.

"It's a bonus that we didn't expect, although we always plan in our budgeting … we always retain a spot on our list so with 23 spots we always have one of those available. We only usually sign 22 the first half of the season, so we've got the spot on the list and we always have the budget to allow for this sudden transfer and to recruit a quality player who alongside Archie Thompson were devastating in the league and when we won two championships," Merrick said.

"With Robbie (Kruse) a chance to go to Asia, it gives us good cover but we've got Dugandzic and Ricardinho as well of course, so I think it's a very very important signing at the right time for the club."

Allsopp is likely to be available for Wednesday week's match against Wellington once he is cleared by FFA in the January transfer window.