Victory keepers to battle it out

The battle for the No.1 goalkeeping position at Melbourne Victory will be decided by the respective performances of Mitch Langerak and Glen Moss in the pre-season, according to coach Ernie Merrick.

The battle for the No.1 goalkeeping position at Melbourne Victory will be decided by the respective performances of Mitch Langerak and Glen Moss in the pre-season, according to coach Ernie Merrick.

Both get the opportunity to occupy the custodian role in the club's championship defence with Michael Theoklitos leaving seek other opportunities overseas. While Langerak seems the natural successor, given how highly he is rated and the fact he has two years as understudy to Theoklitos, Moss will get the chance to put his case forward ahead of the season-opener against the Central Coast Mariners on August 6.

"That will be an interesting one. We've had Mitch for a couple of years now. He's just re-signed for three years. In 30 years of coaching I don't think I've worked with such a talented goalkeeper. Having said that, he's not the finished article, he's got a lot of work to do and he'll make mistakes. But I think he has enormous potential," Merrick said.

"With Gary (Cole) managing to sign Glen Moss, more or less the No.1 national team goalkeeper for New Zealand, he's another tremendous goalkeeper. So the two of them, during the pre-season will be fighting for the first team spot and I think that's healthy competition."

While Langerak is now in China on a week-long tour with the Victory, Moss gets a chance to push his case on a worldwide stage with New Zealand set to take its place in the FIFA Confederations Cup, which begins on June 14. If he is selected as No.1 keeper for the All Whites, he will play against Iraq, South Africa and European champion Spain in the three group matches.

"He's in a really tough competition. Some of the international teams he's playing against in Europe in practice games alone are fantastic. We are very fortunate that Gary moved early on Glen Moss," Merrick said.

Having two quality goalkeepers to choose from is not anything new for the club, which entered its first season with Eugene Galekovic and Theoklitos fighting for the No.1 role. Theoklitos eventually won that battle, but only after Merrick gave both players a chance to push their case during the inaugural campaign. However, Merrick indicated that this time around that whoever wins the battle for the start of the season is likely to remain No.1 throughout.

"I think the goalkeeping position is a position that has to be a very stable role. That person who you back and the beginning of the season you will usually stick with until they make a series of errors. And we, at this club, our coaching usually revolves around the idea that goalkeepers don't make errors. Our defence makes an error allowing a shot at our goalkeeper," he said.

"We sign good goalkeepers, it's good to see Eugene has gone on to do so well. And I think we've got two good goalkeepers in Mitch Langerak and Glen Moss."

Meanwhile, Merrick believes that Theoklitos' move overseas to further his career may be the making of him. He said that Theoklitos is likely to look to secure a deal at a club in the English Championship and look to push his case for an EPL role from there.

"I assess his chances as being very high. Michael Theoklitos has been a tremendous servant for this club. He's really a legend of the club and he's a major factor in two premierships and two championships," he said.

"Australians have got a good reputation in England, at one stage there were four Australian players playing in the Premier League. I would think he would probably be aiming at the Championship over there and I think he'll do very well. If that doesn't work for him, there's certainly a number of countries he could play in."

"I rate him very highly. He's at the right age, 28, He's mature a lot of games under his belt, his back to 100 per cent fitness and his very confident. It's the right time to take the opportunity."