Muscat on sidelines

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is resigned to being without his influential captain Kevin Muscat in coming weeks after the veteran defender suffered a hamstring injury during the Victory's shock 2-0 loss to Central Coast in their Hyundai A-League season opener on Thursday night.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is resigned to being without his influential captain Kevin Muscat in coming weeks after the veteran defender suffered a hamstring injury during the Victory's shock 2-0 loss to Central Coast in their Hyundai A-League season opener on Thursday night.

Muscat, who turns 36 on Friday, the day after the opening-round clash, limped off in the 73rd minute with what Merrick described later as 'a full blown hamstring'.

While Melbourne is not yet certain of the extent of the injury, a hamstring injury usually involves three weeks on the sidelines leaving Muscat in danger of missing upcoming games against Brisbane, North Queensland and Perth.

Merrick said the loss of Muscat capped off a disappointing night for the reigning Hyundai A-League champions.

"It just shows you that this game can turn so quickly," Merrick said.

"We had a tremendous build-up (to the season) with no injuries and now we have got our captain injured and we have been beaten 2-0 and there are no excuses regarding that."

Merrick said Muscat's injury occurred when 'he seemed to get his heel caught in the ground and then he was hit from behind and he was forced to bend over and there was a huge stretch on his hamstring'.

"We don't know the result of it until it is scanned but it doesn't look very good," Merrick said.

"It's a full-blown hammy - it could be that (the usual three weeks out) or it could be longer."

The loss of Muscat represents a major challenge for Melbourne given its inspirational captain played all 24 games during last year's championship-winning season.

Merrick said regular right back Matthew Kemp would now take over from Muscat in the centre of defence alongside Rody Vargas.

Kemp's spot in defence is now up for grabs although Merrick refused to speculate after Thursday night's game who would take that position which is likely to be fought out between Thai recruit Surat Sukha and Steven Pace.

While Melbourne again failed to win its opening-round match - with the Victory now saluting just once in five first-round games in the A-League - Merrick took plenty of positives out of the loss.

"We had 70 percent possession and it shows you that possession doesn't always transfer into a win," he said.

"It was a soft first goal off a second ball and the second one was just a very unusual deflection and apart from that they didn't really have another shot at goal."

"We were good in our defensive play, particularly in the second half, and we had good midfield play but we lacked finishing up front."

"We played good possession football in the second half but we just didn't take advantage in the box."

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