J-Lo and Thwaite back in

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick likes to play his cards close to his chest but even he admits that Jose Luis Lopez and Michael Thwaite are set to slot straight back into the starting line-up for Saturday's match against the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick likes to play his cards close to his chest but even he admits that Jose Luis Lopez and Michael Thwaite are set to slot straight back into the starting line-up for Saturday's match against the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.

Merrick said that while it meant changing around his team from last week's courageous 1-0 win over Adelaide, it was hard to ignore the credentials of Thwaite, who is over an ankle injury, and Lopez, who returns from international duty.

"I would never reveal my starting line-up, but there's two out of the squad, that's Ney Fabiano and Steven Pace, and there are two coming into the squad in Michael Thwaite and Jose Luis Lopez. We've really got a full-strength team," he said.

"One's an ex-Socceroo and one's an international player who is playing great football, that makes a lot of sense to me. It's great to have that great quality coming back into the team."

Merrick said he was confident that Thwaite was over the ankle strain he picked up early in the 5-0 win Newcastle three weeks ago and should be able to play the full 90 minutes.

"I'd say so, I think he was right for most of the game last week, but we decided not take a risk on that. As you can see from that training session, they are all buzzing," he said.

Merrick's other conundrum is working out how to structure his attacking formation minus the suspended Ney Fabiano. He said he felt he would have probably had to leave one of his four front men out if Ney Fabiano had have been available.

"I think what we've done, is one game we've taken the risk of playing four out-and-out attacking players. Apart from that, all the way through the Pre-Season Cup and the first three leagues games, we've played with a front three, rather than a front four," he said.

"When we didn't have Archie, Ney filled in in Archie's role. I don't think it will change the way we play. We took a big risk against Adelaide and it worked for us, but I'm not sure I would have done that in away game against the Mariners."

This week's match marks the first time Victory has come up against goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who was once rated the best keeper in the world.

Merrick said the former Chelsea and Manchester United stopper's comeback was a lesson for all players and there was one former Socceroo team-mate who was looking forward to putting one past an old mate.

"I think it's a great story. He had a very difficult time for a period of his life, and he seems to have turned that around very well and he's come back and playing very good football. He's never let the Mariners down. I know that Kevin (Muscat) would love to have penalty against him. I think Mark Bosnich is a terrific goalkeeper and it's a great story," he said.

Victory memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are currently available from the Victory Shop, 236 Swan Street, Richmond, by calling 1300 GO MVFC or online by clicking here.