Brebner bids for derby spot

Grant Brebner is making a last-ditch attempt to play in Friday night's Melbourne derby against Heart with the Victory midfielder to undergo a match day fitness test along with Carlos Hernandez.

Grant Brebner is making a last-ditch attempt to play in Friday night's Melbourne derby against Heart with the Victory midfielder to undergo a match day fitness test along with Carlos Hernandez.

Brebner broke two toes in his foot in the 0-0 draw with North Queensland on September 18 and missed Victory's most recent game against Newcastle. But despite suggestions earlier in the week that he would be unavailable for the derby clash against Heart, the veteran midfielder is making a final attempt to prove his fitness.

"Grant Brebner has trained a little bit today. He hasn't been doing a lot out on the pitch, but he'll be a fitness test. Again, I'm having trouble stopping him playing," coach Ernie Merrick said.

"I'm confident that for this sort of a game that they'll all come up for it. The attitude in the camp has been fantastic they all want to play. This is a historical game, a true derby match and we've virtually got a full squad to pick from."

Merrick, who will also regain the services of skipper Kevin Muscat, rated both Brebner and Hernandez as 70-30 prospects of playing. Hernandez has calf and ankle problems and will also be given until Friday to show he is ready.

The coach believes the experience of that pair would be an important addition to the team for the derby.

"This is one of those games that is a bit special. We're used to playing these games. It's a bit like a finals or Asian Champions League match and we've got good experience in this area. I've always erred towards senior, experienced players and these guys are fighting for a spot and they are really keen to play," he said.

"We've got 24 players all fighting for a first 11 spot. I'll still bring it down to fitness tests on Carlos and on Brebner. I'll leave them as long as possible to prove themselves."

If Muscat's enthusiasm for Friday's match is any guide to the desire of the rest of the team, Merrick can be assured of a committed performance.

Muscat scotched any talk of the derby being like any other match, describing it as the pinnacle of the A-League season.

"I'll probably go against what most players will say 'it's just another game'. I don't think it is. Try and say that to our fans and our supporters. If you are here tomorrow, you will witness what it is going to mean to them. I'll be going out there knowing it means something different to me," he said.

"To get off to a good start and to be in the history books as the first team to win a derby, that's going to be the aim. I'm certainly looking forward to it."

Muscat said the only letdown he felt was the fact that opposition skipper Simon Colosimo would not be taking the field after withdrawing with a neck injury.

"I've had a long relationship with these guys and for me personally it is disappointing that Simon's not playing. He's a Melbourne boy as well. I've known him a very long time," he said.

"It's always nice to get one over your mates but this game is a little bit special. This will go down every year as the game of the season in the A-League."