Archie's recovery on track

Archie Thompson remains on course for a possible return in the second leg of the major semi-final against Sydney on March 7, with the club expecting to know early next week if he is full recovered from the broken bone in his foot which has sidelined him since January.

Archie Thompson remains on course for a possible return in the second leg of the major semi-final against Sydney on March 7, with the club expecting to know early next week if he is full recovered from the broken bone in his foot which has sidelined him since January.

Thompson has ticked all the boxes in his recovery so far and is spending time without the moonboot he has worn over the past month as part of the healing process. He has returned to low-impact training and it is expected that he will get back to weight-bearing work in the next few days.

Coach Ernie Merrick, speaking from Beijing where Melbourne lost its opening Asian Champions League match 1-0 to Beijing Guaon on Tuesday night, said he has been getting daily updates on the star striker's fitness as well as that of Robbie Kruse, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury.

"We're updated daily on Kruse and Thompson. We have a physio working on a daily basis with those two. Both have started training of some sort. Archie's in a situation where the moonboot is off for two or three hours a day. He's gone to the next stage on machines/low-impact type of work," Merrick said.

"Robbie Kruse has started weight training, he can't run around or anything like that, but he's started weight training."

Thompson is expected to be jogging over the next few days and the effect of that exercise, rather than an MRI scan, will determine if he is full recovered.

"Over the weekend Archie may be at the stage of jogging and we'll know by Monday or Tuesday. The next stage of recovery is rather rapid if the bone is healed. You have to judge the healing of the bone through symptoms, rather than the MRI. The MRI doesn't tell you if it's healed," Merrick said.

The coach is happy with how things are going and if Thompson is able to train pain-free early next week, he is a big chance of taking on the Sky Blues on Sunday week.

"It's now progressing. It could be a fairly rapid improvement should he get through the first stage, involving weight bearing, with no pain," he said.

Merrick admitted that Melbourne badly missed both Thompson and Kruse in Tuesday's loss in Beijing and that their return would be a massive boost in the midst of both a finals series and the ACL campaign.

"It's very hard to lose our two main strikers, Robbie Kruse and Archie Thompson, both have had terrific years. Carlos (Hernandez) really misses those two boys, with their pace an ability to hold possession up for him. That's what went wrong last night, every time the ball went forward, we lost possession," he said.

"With Robbie and Archie, not only can we keep possession of the ball, but we can create and score goals out of nothing. That's a big difference in football. Archie is crucial to a real tilt at the championship, there's no doubt about it."