Victory cautious with key duo

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has resisted the temptation to rush Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez back into the starting line-up for Friday's A-League clash against Adelaide United.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has resisted the temptation to rush Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez back into the starting line-up for Friday's A-League clash against Adelaide United.

Merrick is instead retaining the faith in the players who have guided Victory to a three-match winning streak, meaning the star pair will feature on a bench that also contains Surat Sukha.

"I don't want to change the starting 11 too much," Merrick said.

"In the midfield at the moment we've got three attacking midfielders in Tom Pondeljak, Mate Dugandzic and Marvin Angulo, and they're rewarded because they are playing really well."

But Merrick explained the trio would all see some playing time with the clash against the Reds the last before the finals.

"Carlos was out last week, Archie's just determined to get on the field and Surat Sukha, knowing his quality either as a midfielder or fullback," Merrick said.

"You want momentum (going into the finals), so you want to win the game. You start off with the line-up that has been very successful, then off the bench you bring high-quality players in when you need them."

"If it means in the last 15 minutes giving Surat Sukha a run to give Diogo Ferreira or Matthew Kemp a rest, then to me you're adding to the team."

Both Thompson (hamstring) and Surat (calf) have missed nine matches after sustaining injuries against the Perth Glory in December, while Hernandez missed Victory's last-start win over Newcastle due to groin soreness.

While Victory welcome back three internationals, they are still without influential Scottish midfielder Grant Brebner and fellow engine-room operator Billy Celeski.

"Those two aren't ready to come in, what a problem to have, because they will be right for the following week," Merrick said.

Victory heads to Adelaide with an outside chance of climbing to fourth spot if they can beat the Reds and Gold Coast suffer a heavy defeat to Brisbane Roar.

But Merrick is more worried about keeping the Victory's run of form going against an Adelaide side that dusted them at AAMI Park on January 9.

"It was very tough to lose 4-1 to Adelaide the last time," Merrick said.

"Forget about records and the number of times we've beaten them. That was very tough, to do it in front of our own crowd - it's very hard to take."

"We haven't lost since then, that's all we can do, perform on the field of play. If you look at the record we've only lost two of our last 14 matches, that (Adelaide defeat) was the last one."

Adelaide United are trying to sew up third spot and need to find form having gleaned just one point from their last three matches.