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Honda eyes Melbourne move, Olympics place

Melbourne Victory

Melbourne Victory's Mark Milligan cleared to play in Christmas derby

At one end of the pitch in Saturday's Melbourne derby, the cast of A-League characters seems settled.

Re-signed Victory striker Besart Berisha will come up against City centre-backs Bart Schenkeveld and Iacopo La Rocca, with Michael Jakobsen marshalling the menacing attacker James Troisi.

At the other, it's anyone's guess.

Melbourne City have any number of options as to who will fill the vacant striker role, left open by Ross McCormack's knee complaint.

A stunning recovery from McCormack is one possibility -- though it's more likely City placed him on their squad sheet to attempt to muddy the mind of opposition coach Kevin Muscat.

A cameo up front from youth-team players Daniel Arzani, Nathaniel Atkinson or Braedyn Crowley is possible, with marquee midfielder Marcin Budzinski also a chance to lead the line.

But the Victory defence is also up in the air after Muscat added his own touch of mystique to the occasion.

Mark Milligan has been declared ready to go but a hamstring issue to Leigh Broxham will keep him from being the first to play in 20 Melbourne derbies.

Broxham and Stefan Nigro have shared the left-back position for the past 10 rounds but Muscat said it wasn't as simple as throwing the 21-year-old into his first derby.

"Stef comes into the mix. When called on this season Stef has responded and performed really well," he said.

Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan has been declared fit to play in Saturday's Melbourne derby.

"Thomas Deng also played at left back in the first game of the season and he did very well there.

"Which way we go we'll decide tomorrow afternoon ... there's a couple of options. You're going to have to have a guess."

Milligan is a chance to play in central defence, allowing Matias Sanchez to continue in midfield alongside Carl Valeri.

Muscat wasn't giving anything away ahead of the derby -- which Victory lost 2-1 in round two -- only saying he was thankful to have his Socceroos ace available.

"Millsy's ticked all the boxes and done everything in his powers. He's been meticulous in his rehab," he said.

"It's a real big boost for us."

As for who City fields up front, Muscat said it wouldn't make a difference whether Warren Joyce selects his $20 million Scotland international or a debutant teenager.

"I've not given it any thought," he said.

"For me to be thinking about who's going to be playing for the opposition would have taken some energy away from what's important.

"What's important is what we do tomorrow night."


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