Pressure suits Petkovic

Goalkeeper Michael Petkovic is set to be Melbourne Victory's only debutant in Saturday's opening game of the Hyundai A-League season against Sydney at the SFS and coach Ernie Merrick has every confidence he can fill the void left by Mitch Langerak.

Goalkeeper Michael Petkovic is set to be Melbourne Victory's only debutant in Saturday's opening game of the Hyundai A-League season against Sydney at the SFS and coach Ernie Merrick has every confidence he can fill the void left by Mitch Langerak.

The 34-year-old has been playing Super Lig football in Turkey for the past eight years and was considered unlucky to miss out on one of the goalkeeping spots for the Socceroos recent World Cup campaign.

With Langerak leaving the club for German side Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season, Melbourne was in the market for a high-quality replacement and jumped at the opportunity to secure Petkovic, who was keen to bring his European sojourn to an end.

"Michael has got tremendous experience, 200 games in Turkey, he's a regular. He's a good player and you can just tell from the way he's playing in training, the quality of player he is," Merrick said.

"I rate him very, very highly. You know what goalkeepers are like they can play well until their late 30s, look at Schwarzer. They don-t cover much distance, it-s all short, sharp stuff. Having good anticipation skills are a big plus and he's got all that."

Since Petkovic signed for the club, Melbourne has also let go New Zealand international keeper Glen Moss, who has taken up a role with the Gold Coast. Merrick said it was about giving players the best opportunities to play.

"We've got a record of signing good goalkeepers. The first couple of years we had both Eugene (Galekovic) and Michael (Theoklitos)," Merrick said.

"But you have got to do the right thing, and if they are that good then they have to play and they have to play first team."

"We let Eugene go on really good terms with us. He knows he could come back. Michael got his opportunity to overseas, that wasn't a problem for us. Glen came, I thought he did a good job in the first half of the season (last year), but the understudy was just outstanding in his first four games. Glen got an offer, got an opportunity, we are not the sort of club to hold someone back from first team football. "

That has allowed the club to promote youth league goalkeeper Sebastian Mattei but with no senior back-up on the books, the pressure is now firmly on Petkovic to perform.

"We've all got a lot of faith in Michael Petkovic. His training has been outstanding. You know how you can just tell straight away. The top end boys just show," Merrick said.

"It-s always surprised my why he hasn-t been a regular in a Socceroos team, that's been a big surprise for me."

Petkovic has also made a considerable impression on his team-mates with midfielder Billy Celeski saying he had made a major impression on the club since his arrival.

"Petka is a great keeper, he's got a wealth of experience overseas and at international level. He's slotted in really well. Gets along so well with the boys and his experience at the top-flight football is only going to be a benefit for us. We're really happy to have him here," he said.