Brebs down to wire

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick says Grant Brebner is facing a race against time to be fit for Sunday's Hyundai A-League minor semi-final against Gold Coast at Skilled Park.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick says Grant Brebner is facing a race against time to be fit for Sunday's Hyundai A-League minor semi-final against Gold Coast at Skilled Park.

The influential Scottish midfielder has been Victory's best player this season, but looks set to miss his third straight match due to a calf injury.

"He's got a calf injury so he'll be touch and go," Merrick said.

Brebner and Billy Celeski are the only members of Victory's best starting line-up in doubt for the cut-throat clash against Miron Bleiberg's men.

Having made a successful return from a hamstring injury against Adelaide in the final round of the regular season, star striker Archie Thompson will start alongside Robbie Kruse and Danny Allsopp.

"Archie will be starting," Merrick said.

"To have him, Robbie Kruse and Danny Allsopp up front will be a very exciting formation and that was the plan, that's why we had the run in Adelaide and brought them on."

"We're going to play our best team and it's going to be a very strong team."

But that may mean no place in the starting 11 for Costa Rican playmaker Carlos Hernandez after the brilliant recent form of his countryman Marvin Angulo.

Angulo has been Victory's best player in the two matches where he's filled Hernandez's role as an attacking midfielder.

In Sydney for the official launch of the HAL Finals series, Merrick refused to get in a war of words with Bleiberg after the pair came together for the first time since last month's rant by the Gold Coast coach.

Following Victory's 2-0 home win over United at AAMI Park on January 30, Bleiberg described Victory as dirty, brutal and intimidatory, comments he stood by on Monday.

Merrick played a dead bat when quizzed on the topic.

"I respect all my fellow coaches and colleagues in the A-League and I'm certainly not one to ever put down another coach," Merrick said.

"Having that sort of chat and banter is always part of every team and every sport, but I've never believed in words like revenge."

"That's all nonsense, I've only ever been concerned about our team playing good football and what happens between those rectangular white lines is all that matters."