Carlos set to explode

Carlos Hernandez took Adelaide United apart in the two legs of the major semi-finals last season, and Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick sees the Costa Rican's form as in a very similar vein ahead of Friday's clash against the Reds at Hindmarsh Stadium.


Carlos Hernandez took Adelaide United apart in the two legs of the major semi-finals last season, and Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick sees the Costa Rican's form as in a very similar vein ahead of Friday's clash against the Reds at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Hernandez scored the first goal of the first leg at Hindmarsh Stadium in February setting the scene for a Melbourne domination over the Reds in that semi-final tie. He followed that up with undoubtedly his best performance in a Melbourne Victory shirt, when he scored one goal and set up three others in the 4-0 win at Etihad Stadium.

Hernandez scored a sensational goal early in last week's 1-1 draw against Wellington from a free kick, backing up off a trip back from Central America. He faded late in the match as his journey during the week took its toll, but Merrick expects him to be back at his peak for the clash against Adelaide.

"I'd like him to play as he did last week. The last 10 minutes, he started to flag. It'd been a while since he'd played 90 minutes. He's playing great football and what a goal he scored. If he just scores for us again, I'll be pretty happy and he keeps playing those balls forward, he's looking really good," Merrick said.

Skipper Kevin Muscat has been named in an extended squad, but Merrick said that a decision on the captain's fitness won't be made until the day of the match.

"Kevin trained really well all week. But some sessions were off legs. But we won't make a final call on him until tomorrow morning. We've brought and extra player over just in case and it will come down to how he feels tomorrow. The bottom line is it's his decision," Merrick said.

"This week it-s 60-40, he's pretty keen to play against Adelaide, I don't know why, he just loves playing against Adelaide. They are great rivals for us, Adeiade and we had the wood over them last year, but this is a new season and it's very important we play good quality football if we are going to do well again."

Melbourne takes a six-match winning streak against Adelaide into the clash, having beaten the Reds on every occasion they met last year. Merrick said that may give the club some confidence, but that history can only help so much.

"It's good to know that we've had that sort of success last season. This is a new season, and we've got to play consistent football for 90 minutes and tighten up our act in defence, create more and take more shooting opportunities. We're capable of doing that, and we're certainly going over to Adelaide with a win in mind, we are not going over there for a draw," he said.

The coach said that Melbourne's form would improve with more stability in the first-choice team, but that wouldn't detract the club from playing positive football.

"We've got to try and field a similar XI week in, week out to build up some consistency," he said. "We're certainly going over to Adelaide for the three points, and if Kevin's in the squad, it's a big bonus."

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