Muscat backs Deng

The injury-enforced absence of James Donachie has presented a chance for Thomas Deng, and Kevin Muscat believes the 20-year-old is primed to make the most of it.

“We’re very confident in Tommy and he gets his opportunity now and I’m sure he’ll take it,” Muscat told media on Thursday.

“We were pleased with him in the first game (against Sydney) and he was probably a little bit unlucky not to play last week.”

While Muscat didn’t confirm where Deng would start in the back four, the Victory head coach explained how the defender’s year away on loan had helped him grow.

“His football talent before he left was evident. He went away and he’s matured a hell of a lot.

“It was forced upon him and in hindsight it probably helped him, the comforts of moving out of home and thinking for yourself, he matured a hell of a lot physically as well.

“Understanding how Adelaide are going to play, you’re going to have to defend a lot of balls that get placed over the top of the back four and ask questions.

“Whether he starts at left back and centre back, we’ll decide in the next day but either/or, we’re comfortable with him.”

At the other end of the ground, Victory is looking for a way to translate its opportunities in front of goals to the scoresheet.

“In reviewing games and analysing games, there was a lot to like about what we’ve done in the first two games,” Muscat said.

“Last weekend’s game was the highest return of balls into the box into goalscoring areas we’ve had in a long time yet it wasn’t enough. There’s obviously things we can improve on.”

Working on the balance between throwing numbers forward and being able to defend the counter appears to be crucial against Adelaide.

“With the number of times we get into that position, we want to increase the quality of balls coming into the box and try to get more bodies into the box as well,” Muscat said.

“Once you do want to do that, you’re going to have to be set up nice and safe so if it doesn’t spill to you, you can deal with it.

“We want to get bodies in and around (Besart Berisha) a little bit more. If you want to play like that you’re probably a little bit more vulnerable going the other way, that’s the way I want to coach and the way I want to be.

“We’ll go across to Adelaide and search for that little bit better performance that will yield us three points.”