Key trio eye Jeju United

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick is hoping to regain experienced trio Surat Sukha, Billy Celeski and Grant Brebner for next Tuesday's first home AFC Champions League match against Korean outfit Jeju United at Docklands Stadium.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick is hoping to regain experienced trio Surat Sukha, Billy Celeski and Grant Brebner for next Tuesday's first home AFC Champions League match against Korean outfit Jeju United at Docklands Stadium.

Merrick said the club were keen to move on quickly from the 5-1 defeat to Gamba Osaka in Japan last week and getting back three key players will make a big difference to the side, especially in the holding midfield role.

"There's three that I want to have in the starting line-up, Surat Sukha, Billy Celeski and Grant Brebner," Merrick said on Tuesday.

"Our biggest problem from a coaching perspective has been filling the defensive midfield role. Brebner has had a fantastic year and Celeski has been coming back from injury, but the two of them haven't been available for the last four games."

Merrick has used a variety of players in the role at the base of the midfield, including Adrian Leijer, but feels Brebner is the best man for the job and is happy with the progress he has made since missing the trip to Japan.

Celeski, who came on an as early substitute in the Gamba Osaka match but lasted just over an hour, is also pressing to prove his fitness for the match, while Sukha, who also came on in that match, is progressing well in his bid for a return to the starting line-up.

Merrick sees the fitness of Brebner and Celeski as crucial not only to the defence, which was put under considerable pressure in the opening match, but also in assisting the three-man strike force of Danny Allsopp, Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse, which he has committed to keep on playing.

"In the middle of the midfield, winning possession, keeping possession and playing creative passes to our strikers, we need to work on that," he said.

"If our three strikers get service, we've shown that we'll score goals. There's been a number of opportunities we had to score goals and we didn't put them."

Merrick said there was not much to gain from dwelling on what went wrong against Gamba Osaka and that planning for a much-needed win over the Korean side was well advanced.

"I know they are a very good team in a very good league, but there's no excuses for conceding five goals and three in 10 minutes, we are a much better team than that and we intend to show that against Jeju," he said.

"You have to move on straight away, it's a game you can take no positives from whatsoever. We've got to move on, and the next challenge in Jeju United on Tuesday and we aiming towards a good performance and planning for that started immediately after the Gamba game."