Archie ready to fire

Archie Thompson may have gone three games without scoring a goal but coach Ernie Merrick expects his star striker to break his mini-drought against Central Coast at Telstra Dome on Friday night.

Archie Thompson may have gone three games without scoring a goal but coach Ernie Merrick expects his star striker to break his mini-drought against Central Coast at Telstra Dome on Friday night.

Given Thompson's recent record against the Mariners, Merrick's confidence would appear to be well-placed. Thompson has scored four goals in the past three matches against Lawrie McKinna's men and the coach expects him to extend that run at the Dome on Friday night.

"He's playing great football, Archie. His dribbling has been outstanding, he's setting up other strikers, he's working really hard off the ball to win the ball back again. He's full of confidence, his fitness is at the top of his game. Archie's on fire. I'll be very surprised if Archie doesn't score tomorrow," he said.

McKinna usually adopts a high offside line against Melbourne in order to give the Victory midfield less room to operate. However, Thompson, the best counter-attacking player in the league, loves the space behind defenders and that has seen him enjoy plenty of good days against the Mariners over the years.

"We do like that style of play," Merrick said. "The Mariners have got their strengths as well. We respect them as a team. If there's a tough team we want to play in the top four at home, to secure second spot, it's the Mariners."

Merrick is expecting a very physical contest on Friday night and will likely alter his starting line-up to counteract that aspect of the Mariners' game.

"The Mariners are always a team which is up for a scrap so it will be a very competitive 90 minutes, 11 players on both sides going for the win," he said.

"They are very competitive and they are physical and you have to match them with that before you are you concerned about your technical attack, you can't win games on skill alone."

"The eleven we put out will be a big strong tough team that are ready for a scrap," he said.

Michael Thwaite will come into the squad for Matthew Kemp, who is suspended. Merrick is also considering giving Ney Fabiano a start given his recent strong performances off the bench.

"Fabiano, to his credit, in the last five times he's come off the bench, he's scored four times. Surely that's putting your hand up. It might just suit Fabiano because he's a big strong lad up front, and quite a handful," Merrick said.