Melbourne looking forward to Fowler

Melbourne is set to face up to English footballing legend Robbie Fowler in Saturday's clash against North Queensland in Townsville and it's a task coach Ernie Merrick is particularly looking forward to.


Melbourne is set to face up to English footballing legend Robbie Fowler in Saturday's clash against North Queensland in Townsville and it's a task coach Ernie Merrick is particularly looking forward to.

Fowler has had a tough start to his Hyundai A-League career with Fury losing their first two games to Sydney and Gold Coast respectively, but does have a goal to his credit and is determined to help his fledgling side get back on the right side of the ledger.

Merrick is a big fan of the former Liverpool legend and knows that he could be the difference between winning and losing on Saturday.

"I highly respect the man, I actually spent time at Millwood when I did a coaching course over there, and Gerard Houllier was the coach and the two strikers were him and Owen," Merrick said.

"I've seen him at his best. He's still deadly if you give him time in the box. He's one of the best finishes ever. Obviously we will concern ourselves with him, but hopefully not too much more than we do with other players in the league such as Smeltz etc."

Fowler is not the only concern for Melbourne, which trained in near single figure temperatures on Thursday at Monash University. There will be a big temperature change for the defending champions, with humid conditions in the high 20s expected in North Queensland.

But Merrick is looking forward to seeing some sunshine and says the Victory should have no issues adjusting to the heat and humidity.

"I had a look at that. I think the last game was about 26, I think the weather will be a factor to some extent, but I'd rather play in that sort of weather than in minus whatever it was when we went to Queenstown. It's just one thing you take in your stride and we've got good sports science regarding hydration," he said.

Merrick has added defenders Steven Pace and Matthew Foschini to his squad ahead of the match, but has admitted that Foschini is unlikely to play.

"He's very coachable and one of our future players. He's not ready to be thrown into the deep end yet, but one that we're looking at for the future. I wouldn't rule him out of playing later on in the season, but really happy that we've signed him," Merrick said.

"I don't think I would like to put the boy under too much pressure at this time, we have him there, because you never know how your last session might go with an injury, and he's a good defender. But I don't think he'll be in the squad this week. You have to pick you games for the youngsters when they come in, to make sure they are ready for it. You don't want to shatter his confidence."

Melbourne is keeping its options open ahead of the match, with Pace a chance to make his first start since the 2007/08 season. Matthew Kemp may join the squad late or leave it early with his wife Stephanie set to have a baby on the weekend.

"Matthew Kemp's wife Steph is about to have a baby and we're think of taking an extra player up just in case at the last minute, she decides to have a child. It's an exciting time for him," Merrick said.

"We'll allow him to fly in late, and look at getting him an early flight out and missing a recovery session. Family is much more important than football."

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