Ernie: The kids are alright

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has heaped praise on Victory's younger brigade of players ahead of Sunday's clash against Gold Coast United and believes it is just a matter of time before they take the spotlight from the established stars at the club.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has heaped praise on Victory's younger brigade of players ahead of Sunday's clash against Gold Coast United and believes it is just a matter of time before they take the spotlight from the established stars at the club.

Injuries to experienced players such as Archie Thompson, Matthew Kemp, Billy Celeski and Grant Brebner have opened the door for a generation of emerging Victory players to get their chance in the Hyundai A-League at the start of the 2010-11 season.

While it has probably meant some short-term pain in terms of results with Melbourne yet to register a win in their first three games, the long-term picture is rosier with Merrick saying there was a real edge of excitement about the club at the moment.

"I'm excited about the youngsters that are bursting onto the scene, which is very good for Melbourne Victory and for our future," he said.

"When you think two of these players, Mate Dugandzic and Robbie Kruse, it is the first time they've played together in our squad, they were both wingers and now they are strikers. They have come out of nowhere, they are not million dollar signings. The expectation is to score lots of goals and win games and that's the way it should be at Melbourne Victory," he said.

"On top of that, we've picked up Geoff Kellaway, who came on and created a penalty for us, to see (Leigh) Broxham doing so well in the midfield, to see Diogo Ferreira come on in a wide position and get forward, these boys are all 19 or 20 years old apart from Geoff who is 24. It's good to get so many fresh players in the squad."

It will mean a few selection headaches for Merrick as he gets his more experienced players back over the next three months, but it's one he is happy to have if he knows he has a wealth of options to go for.

"When you think about the five players who were out of the squad (against North Queensland), Matthew Kemp, Archie Thompson, (Billy) Celeski and (Grant) Brebner and Ricardinho, that's half your outfield. It looks like we've got pretty good depth once everyone gets fit," Merrick added.

Celeski and Brebner have both pushed heavily for selection for the match against Gold Coast, with Merrick indicating it was more likely the Scottish-born midfielder would start in the match after missing last week's clash with North Queensland with soreness.

"Brebner is a difficult player to leave out as he's so experienced and the variety of passes he can play to the strikers is so good. I'm certainly thinking about Brebs," the coach said.

Celeski has recovered remarkably well from a training-ground mishap where his recently reconstructed knee buckled last week. But Merrick believes another week on the training track will ensure he has the fitness to play out 90 minutes.

"The trouble with Billy is playing in midfield you have to have a really good engine to do a lot of work. I don't think he's up to a high enough level of fitness yet," he said.