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Jan 2, 2007

Melbourne Victory to blunt own attack

Melbourne Victory believes it has the depth to leave out its three top scorers and still continue its winning march through the A-League season.

Coach Ernie Merrick said he was considering giving captain Kevin Muscat and the league's leading scorer Daniel Allsopp a rest from Sunday's away game against Perth Glory.

"There's a couple of more senior players that look like they need a bit of a break, like Kevin and Daniel," Merrick said.

"They're the boys I'm thinking about giving a rest this weekend, given we've got a five-day turnaround to the Queensland game."

The Victory was already certain to be without star striker Archie Thompson and defender Adrian Leijer because of suspension.

Allsopp (11 goals) and Thompson (nine) are the competition's two highest scorers.

Their combination upfront has been a prominent factor in the Victory building an enormous gap between itself and the rest of the league on the ladder.

Muscat (seven) is the league's equal third-highest scorer, although six of his goals have come from the penalty spot.

Merrick's plan, part of the rotation scheme Melbourne has implemented since sealing the minor premiership, will leave the side heavily reliant on Brazilian dangerman Fred.

Mid-season signing James Robinson, an Englishman who had been playing in the Victorian Premier League, is expected to come into the starting line-up, along with Adrian Caceres.

But Merrick was adamant the team that would front up against the struggling Glory should not be described as a second-string outfit.

"There's a lot of good players in this squad and the boys that haven't been getting a game are good players as well, some of them were regulars last year," Merrick said.

"I think, as you can see from the quality of the training games we have, they're ready to have a go.

"We've got a few suspensions, we're looking at giving boys a run that haven't had much of a start this year, but we'll still be a very strong team."

Merrick expected the Glory to provide spirited opposition, despite the apparent disunity symbolised by Perth teammates Jamie Harnwell and Adrian Webster's on-field punch-up last week.

"They've got a good bunch of lads, they're pretty keen, that's commonplace, it's just the cameras happened to catch it at the wrong time," Merrick said.

"They know it was out of order, but those boys will be fine."