Merrick's faith in Carlos' form

The end to Carlos Hernandez's goal drought is just around the corner, according to Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick, who believes the Johnny Warren Medallist is approaching his best form.

The end to Carlos Hernandez's goal drought is just around the corner, according to Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick, who believes the Johnny Warren Medallist is approaching his best form.

Hernandez, who scored 13 goals in a stellar performance last season, is yet to trouble the scorers in nine matches so far this season and his performances have drawn criticism from those outside the club.

But internally, Victory are happy with where he is at, with Merrick pointing to the hard work Hernandez has been doing in defence.

"That's because Carlos is not scoring goals," Merrick said when asked about criticism of Hernandez's form.

"We know he is fitter than he has ever been. We know he is working harder up front, in the game against Brisbane, where he scored goals, his pressure up front was first class. Against Newcastle he stole the ball several times he's a major part of that now."

Hernandez missed two chances to give Melbourne the lead against Newcastle last week, but Merrick believes the goals will come when the confidence returns.

"He's getting into goal-scoring positions. Those two shots he missed just outside the six-yard box would generally be regulation for him and he's doing it at training. I just feel that strikers and attacking midfielders go through that. Once he gets one, he'll get a number," he said.

"I think he's playing really good football, and the video clips back that up."

Merrick did concede that Hernandez was missing playing in behind Archie Thompson and it was taking time for his new attacking combination to gel since the arrival of Brazilian signing Ricardinho.

"For him to have two strikers to hit, it means he doesn-t have to hold the ball as long and cop the tackles," he said.

"Ricardinho is getting better and better. They've (Hernandez and Ricardinho) got a close relationship and he's beginning to hit him at training. We keep putting them in the same training group and he's hitting his feet regularly. I think it helps having two strikers who are available all the time. It makes him look a lot better."

The coach said Hernandez is suffering soreness in his calves and ankles and will appreciate the week off to rest up for the Melbourne derby against Heart next Friday.