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Jan 20, 2010

Victory eyeing top-two A-League finish

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick says his players are itching to begin a week that will go a long way towards deciding whether they can book a top-two A-League finish.

Far from panicking about the prospect of three games in seven days, Merrick believes his side's form and injury worries have come good at the right time and have the Victory well placed to cope with the schedule demands.

The Victory, in third spot with a game in hand over the Gold Coast (top) and Sydney FC (second), are likely to retain the same side that thrashed Perth Glory 6-2 last Saturday night for this Saturday night's game against Adelaide United at Etihad Stadium.

But they are a good chance to recall Matthew Kemp, Evan Berger and Surat Sukha, who have all overcome hamstring injuries, for either Tuesday's home game against the Wellington Phoenix or the vital clash against Gold Coast (away) on Friday week.

Merrick said the fixturing block was tough, but said his players had welcomed the chance to build on the form they showed against the Glory coming into the business end of the season.

"We're well prepared for it and there's a lot of players coming good at the right time certainly on last week's performance," he said on Thursday.

"The boys look forward to that positive aspect of it, the opportunity to play more games, get more points, get straight into it, (draw on) the hype of the crowd.

"As coaches that's what we drive.

"The last thing you want is players going `Oh no, not another game', but we're not like that at the moment.

"The boys are jumping out of their skin, (had a) tremendous session again this week - the training sessions have been first-class - and it's all about building up momentum leading into the end of the season."

The only concern for the Victory at training on Thursday came when veteran midfielder Grant Brebner copped a kick to the ankle and required treatment on the sidelines.

"He's fine, he didn't twist his ankle or anything, he's just getting soft in his old age. He'll be fine," Merrick said.

Merrick was keen for his players to enjoy their thrashing of Perth, but warned not to under-estimate Adelaide, who blew a two-goal lead and were beaten 3-2 at home by the Glory on Tuesday night and sit bottom of the table.

The Victory have won their past eight games against Adelaide, including last year's grand final.

"It's a whole new ball game on Saturday night, it's about us playing our best football and not ... getting ahead of ourselves," Merrick said.

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