Victory striker search continues

Melbourne Victory are no closer to announcing the signing of a striker to replace the injured Archie Thompson, with coach Ernie Merrick saying that the club is determined to secure a high-quality player.

Melbourne Victory are no closer to announcing the signing of a striker to replace the injured Archie Thompson, with coach Ernie Merrick saying that the club is determined to secure a high-quality player.

Thompson ruptured his ACL early in last year's grand final loss against Sydney and is expected to miss much of the season. The club has said all along it wanted to find a player who could fill the void, but Merrick indicated the process was taking longer than he would have hoped.

"It-s a question that's very difficult to answer. Because we really only want a key player up front, we are trying to be very specific and get the highest quality. Gary Cole and I are working on that as best we can. I can-t promise anything. I know there's lots of rumours," he said.

"There is no doubt we need to replace Archie Thompson, who in effect will be out for most of the season, until January. Having said that, we've got this year a very strong line-up. We haven-t had to sign a whole range of players, in fact we-ve only gone out and signed some high quality youngsters and our goalkeeper, Michael Petkovic."

While the club's search for a replacement from Thompson continues, Merrick has every faith in the attacking players he has at his disposal and will get a good look at what form they are in when Melbourne hosts Boca Juniors on Friday night at Etihad Stadium.

"Our aim is to work on the players we've got. Get Robbie Kruse working up front, get midfielders to come through and I think we've got a range of players who can score goals," he said.

"Carlos (Hernandez) is unavailable, he's not fit and he's carrying an injury. But we've got Robbie, Tommy (Pondeljak), Mate Dugandzic, young Marvin (Angulo) as well. We-ve got a range of options."

Merrick said he and his players can-t wait to take on the Argentine giants on Friday night.

"I think it's very exciting to have a team of quality of Boca juniors coming out here. It-s one of the biggest teams in the world," he said.

"We've had Juventus out here, we've had Fulham out here and now to have a team from South America is just a great opportunity for us."

"If you go back in the club's 105-year history, you know this is a team which always performs and plays very attacking and exciting football."

While Friday night will be the first chance for Victory fans to see their club ahead of the new season, it will also be the first serious hit-out new Boca coach Claudio Borghi has overseen.

Borghi, who has coaching experience at Colo Colo, Independiente and Argentinos Juniors, promised the usual attacking style from his team, but with a back three, rather than Boca's customary back four.

"Boca's fans are not used to this style of play, but hopefully I can show them this is the way forward," he said, through a translator.

"The Boca culture is always to win, they accept nothing else and that is what we hope to do against Melbourne Victory."

Merrick admits it will be a tough task for his team against a side which has been Argentine champions on 23 occasions.

"Playing against a team like Boca Juniors, you've got to be realistic on one hand. It-s not about a result and how it goes, it-s about the performance and it-s about being prepared to go in our first game against Sydney which is a Grand Final re-match," he said.

"To learn and play against this type of quality will be first class, not just for the players, but also for me as a coach."