Victory strikers set to play

Melbourne Victory's chances of securing a home grand final in the Hyundai A-League have been boosted considerably with star strikers Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse set to take part in Sunday's second leg of the major semi-final in Sydney.

Melbourne Victory's chances of securing a home grand final in the Hyundai A-League have been boosted considerably with star strikers Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse set to take part in Sunday's second leg of the major semi-final in Sydney.

But just how much of a part the pair will play remains a mystery.

Thompson, who has been sidelined since Australia Day with a fractured foot, and Kruse - out with an ankle injury since the last home and away game against Sydney - both trained strongly at Olympic Park on Friday and will travel with the squad to Sydney.

However due to their recent lack of match fitness, Merrick faces a juggling act over just how much playing time he can afford to give both players as Melbourne looks to defend its 2-1 lead from the first leg.

Even a 0-0 draw would be enough to secure Melbourne's third home grand final in just five seasons as it bids to become the first club to win three Hyundai A-League titles but so finely is the tie balanced that just a 1-0 win for the home side would be enough to give Sydney a home grand final and next weekend off.

While Merrick has vowed Melbourne will play its usual attacking game and not sit back and try to defend for a 0-0 draw, he is battling a striker shortage given Thompson and Kruse's lack of fitness and the two-match suspension handed down to Nik Mrdja following his elbow on Shannon Cole during the first leg in Melbourne.

Merrick was cautious on Friday when asked whether Thompson and Kruse would play against Sydney with the game coming just 48 hours before Melbourne's next match in its Asian Champions League campaign.

"I get the feeling from both of them that I definitely shouldn't rule them out for some game time," Merrick said.

"We have arranged to take them both to Sydney but we will take an extra player (as cover) as well."

"Hopefully we can get some game time out of them but it really depends on how they pull up training."

"I am pretty confident we will get at least one of them up (to play) but there is no doubt there is not 90 minutes in both of them."

Despite the fact his team is likely to be lacking firepower and only needs a 0-0 draw to earn a home grand final, Merrick has vowed to go on the attack regardless of whether or not he has Kruse and Thompson at his disposal.

"The danger in focusing on a clean sheet is you dwell on defensive play and that is not our strength," he said of the league's highest scoring team this season.

"We did that (play defensively) for the first half an hour against Beijing Guoan (during their away loss in the opening game of the Asian Champions League) but we didn't do that last time against Sydney."

"We played our game in the first leg of the semi-final (against Sydney) and every time we do that then we play well."

"And we never play two bad games in a row (after the 1-0 loss to Beijing) and we are banking on that this time."