Melbourne looks to home comforts

Melbourne is hoping home ground advantage can help it turn around its AFC Champions League form in Wednesday's must-win match against Kawasaki Frontale at Docklands Stadium.

Melbourne is hoping home ground advantage can help it turn around its AFC Champions League form in Wednesday's must-win match against Kawasaki Frontale at Docklands Stadium.

Melbourne is winless in three ACL games and needs three points in this match if it is to be any realistic hope of getting through to the round of 16. It played Kawasaki last week in Japan and lost 4-0, but Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick believes that on home soil Melbourne can provide a much tougher challenge.

"We know that the home advantage is a huge advantage for us, whether that be in A-League or in the AFC Champions League. Playing here in front of our crowd is a big plus for us. We think it will assist us to lift. We need to lift because we were really disappointed losing 4-0 in Kawasaki," he said.

Merrick admitted the playing group had suffered a big letdown with the penalty shootout loss to Sydney in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final quickly followed by a disastrous result in Japan. But he has sensed a change in the mood of the group ahead of this match.

"It's been 10 days since the Grand Final. I think most of the players are over that now. It's about focussing on, what is a very difficult job to qualify and finish in second position," he said.

"But we are going to a have a go. We've got a strong team out. We've discussed that disappointment but we've got nothing to lose and so we are focused on moving forward in the AFC Champions League."

Melbourne will regain captain Kevin Muscat for the match, while Merrick indicated Marvin Angulo is likely to start. Leigh Broxham misses through suspension and Tom Pondeljak remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. He said that several of the club's younger players are likely to see some action in the match.

"We've been doing that all year because of our injuries. We've been giving a lot of the youngsters a run. There's six youngsters and let's not forget a lot of them are amateur part-time players. They've been around with us now for several months in training," he said.

"Luke Pilkington was very close to getting a start or off the bench but he's got a slight hip flexor. The youngsters will certainly get a run at some stage."

But Merrick said despite a couple of notable absentees, Melbourne is much better prepared for this clash than it was a week ago.

"We're a lot fitter and healthier than the last game which was a 72 hour turnaround. Training has been good. The boys are freshened up. I've given them the weekend off. Today's session is one of the best sessions we-ve had for a while. There's good spirit in the camp," he said.