Merrick hopeful on Muscat

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick hopes to regain skipper Kevin Muscat for Friday's clash with Adelaide after he admitted following Sunday's 1-1 draw with Wellington that the veteran's presence is being sorely missed at present.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick hopes to regain skipper Kevin Muscat for Friday's clash with Adelaide after he admitted following Sunday's 1-1 draw with Wellington that the veteran's presence is being sorely missed at present.

Speaking after Carlos Hernandez's fourth-minute free kick was cancelled out by a 30-minute equaliser from Tim Brown in the game at Etihad Stadium, Merrick lamented his team's inability to capitalise on its goal-scoring opportunities.

"There was a lot of the play I was happy with but once again once we're in and around the penalty box we're not creating high-quality opportunities to finish," Merrick said.

"And when an opportunity falls our way we don't seem to take it and that's pretty disappointing."

"It's all about scoring goals at the moment, I think we're doing pretty well at the back and in midfield but when we get into attacking positions we need to be more concise, take our chances and get good strikes on target."

"I don't think their goalkeeper (Mark Paston) had much to do and I know our goalkeeper (Glen Moss) didn't have much to do either."

Conceding that Victory had turned in an inconsistent display against the Phoenix, dominating some patches but having to work hard in defence during others as the opposition pressed hard from set pieces, Merrick pointed to the absence of Muscat, Billy Celeski and Danny Allsopp.

Allsopp has transferred to Qatar and Celeski won't play again until the next campaign because of a long-term knee injury meaning Muscat's possible return from a hamstring injury for next weekend's Hindmarsh Stadium rematch of last season's Hyundai A-League Grand Final can't come quick enough for Merrick.

"Kevin probably could've played today but what we were mindful of is that it's a five-day turnaround (between games)," Merrick said added.

"Most hamstrings take a minimum of six weeks, I think it's six weeks next week (so) I think he'll be pretty close to going."

"However, having said that if he's not right he's not going to play but I certainly as a coach miss his presence on the field."

"I think Kevin makes a big difference when he comes into our defence, not only from that type of organisation but his quality of the pass out of defence were lacking a little as well."

While Victory is yet to hit its straps in this campaign Merrick remains confident that his team is close to turning the corner soon because 'it's a case of them all gelling together and getting used to each other' especially in such an even competition.

"I said that right from the outset that every year the standard is getting higher and the teams are recruiting well," Merrick said.

"Look at the teams near the bottom from last season, how well they've recruited, in particular Perth and as Glen (Moss) just said I think Wellington have recruited well."

"So there's going to be no easy games and I think that's the way the league should be."

"I have to keep our focus on our team and I think we're better than that."

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