Schwarzer challenge for Danny and Archie

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has spoken of the respect he holds for Australian goalkeeping legend Mark Schwarzer, who is set to face off against Victory's strike combination of Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp in a pre-season friendly at Etihad Stadium on July 11.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has spoken of the respect he holds for Australian goalkeeping legend Mark Schwarzer, who is set to face off against Victory's strike combination of Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp in a pre-season friendly at Etihad Stadium on July 11.

Thompson and Allsopp are the most prolific goalscoring combination in the Hyundai A-League having combined for 73 goals over the first four seasons of the competition. But it is doubtful they have ever come up against a goalkeeper of Schwarzer's profile and ability while in a Melbourne Victory shirt.

Speaking after it was announced Fulham would play Melbourne ahead of Victory's Premiership and Championship defence, Merrick said Schwarzer deserved highest billing after a decorated career which has included 12 seasons and over 400 games for Premier League clubs Middlesbrough and Fulham.

"He's the full package. He's just terrific in the media. He's a great role model. He's such a humble person and yet an outstanding performer and he's now played in the English Premier League for some time and represented the Socceroos for such a long time, No doubt, he'll be a feature of the world Cup in South Africa next year," Merrick said.

But the presence of Australia's longest-serving player (in terms of years played) does not deter Merrick from thinking his star strike pairing can get the job done in July.

"I think on our day, you know what soccer is like, they can dominate the game for quite a while, then Archie and Dan can pop up and score a couple of goals, then we'll seal the gates and that's it. We are a very competitive team," he said.

"On our day, everyone at their best. If we resign all the players, then it can be won. But we wouldn't set high expectations at this stage."

Schwarzer will be one of the main drawcards for the match, while the other Australian who could play is Adrian Leijer, who moved to Fulham in 2007. The defender has been on loan at Norwich and while his England adventure is yet to turn out as planned, Merrick said Leijer needs to be persistent.

"I've been one that's talking Adrian into staying (in England). To make the big time over there, it's not an easy task. You have to go through very tough times before you make it. You just have to look at Scott McDonald, a failure at Southampton, went down the leagues, ended up at Motherwell, and now he's doing really well at the biggest club in Scotland," Merrick said.

"Vince Grella had to drop from Serie A down to a second division team before he cracked it. I'm hoping Adrian stays there a little longer but if he decides to come back, we'd love to have him back."

"I'd encourage him to stay in Europe as long as he can at this stage. But sometimes you have to drop down from the Premiership to the championship to get the run, then bounce back up again. I think the boy's got the ability to do it, it's just very tough initially."

Meanwhile, Merrick praised the decision of FFA to drop the Pre-Season Cup, a decision which made it easier for Victory to book a date with Fulham.

"I think that was a good move. There will be two designated games, against Adelaide and New Zealand, We've arranged a couple of games against the state team. That's been good for us, the elimination of that competition." he said.