One eye on 2010/11 for Victory

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick will use Wednesday night's final AFC Champions League match against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in South Korea as part of Victory's preparations for next season.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick will use Wednesday night's final AFC Champions League match against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in South Korea as part of Victory's preparations for next season.

Victory's chances of reaching the last 16 of Asia's premier competition were dashed two weeks ago when they were held to a scoreless draw by Beijing at Docklands.

After such a long season which ultimately yielded nothing in terms of trophies, Merrick could be forgiven for looking forward to the end of a marathon season.

But instead he is firmly focused on Victory's last match and building towards next season.

"It isn't like that at all," Merrick said when asked if he was happy the season is finally over.

"I really enjoy coaching, I love the challenge particularly the Asian Champions League, I think it's a wonderful competition and future of Australian football will become hopefully as meaningful as the ECL (European Champions League) is to the European teams who are all desperate to get into it so we're really enjoying it."

"But it's almost like after we were knocked out, Monday morning for us was the start of our pre-season and our focus for next year so it's like this is the first game of pre-season and we're going to be working on things that we want to improve on for next season.

Merrick is predicting another successful season in 2010/11 with the core group of players all staying with the club.

"Our level of fitness is very good and most importantly we don't have a huge turnover of players, so the squad we have is very strong, very stable and we're not starting from scratch because we've really retained 80 or 90 percent of our players, it's really a couple of strikers we're after," he said.

"There'll be a big build-up and I have to say our new stadium is fantastic, having trained on it on Saturday the feeling that we've got at home is just terrific for the boys and dedicated training facilities thanks to the state government and our board."

"The boys will play the testimonial for Kevin Muscat on 14th of May and right after that game they're on holidays for a month and then they'll be returning middle of June and aiming for sometime in August the league starting so they'll have time off but they'll have training programs, but it will good for them to freshen up physically and mentally which I think will be very smooth into the new season."

Merrick will get a chance to cast his eye over a number of youngsters on Wednesday night with up to five youth team members set to take part in the match. Defender Rody Vargas and strikers Nik Mrdja and Robbie Kruse will not be considered for selection, which opens the door for a host of untried players to get their chance.

Youngsters Diogo Ferreira, Aziz Behich, Steve Hatzikostas and back-up goalkeeper Sebastian Mattei are all in line to get some game time, while Matthew Foschini, Mate Dugandzic and Marvin Angulo could all get a rare start.