Thwaite raring to go

Experienced defender Michael Thwaite says he is ready to play the full 90 minutes for Melbourne Victory in Saturday night's blockbuster Hyundai A-League clash against arch-rivals Sydney FC at Telstra Dome.

Experienced defender Michael Thwaite says he is ready to play the full 90 minutes for Melbourne Victory in Saturday night's blockbuster Hyundai A-League clash against arch-rivals Sydney FC at Telstra Dome.

As league leader Melbourne prepares to defend its hold on top spot on the ladder, against a team just two points and two places behind it on the ladder, Thwaite is looking forward to reclaiming his place in the starting line-up after resuming from an ankle injury as a second half substitute in last week's surprise 1-0 loss at Newcastle.

The 25-year-old, who has played in Romania, Poland and Norway as well as making six appearances for the Socceroos, says his injured ankle pulled up well following last week's cameo and he is now ready to strengthen Melbourne's defence for what shapes as one of the Victory's biggest tests for the season.

"I felt really good last week, I tried to add something extra down the right hand side and I thought even though we went down to 10 men (with the dismissal of Archie Thompson) I thought we pretty much took it to Newcastle," Thwaite told www.melbournevictory.com.au on Tuesday.

"I feel I can play 90 minutes now this week, it (starting on the bench) was more a precaution thing last week to make sure I didn't cop another tackle (on the ankle) like I did against Queensland."

Thwaite, who is currently on loan to the Victory from Norwegian club Brann, says he can hardly wait to take on Sydney in what he admits is one of the biggest rivalries in the A-League.

"It's great to play against Sydney," he said.

"When I was playing overseas I heard so much about the games against Sydney and Adelaide and it's probably going to draw the biggest crowd of the year."

Thwaite says he is thrilled to be back in Australia, after spending the past four years overseas, and is impressed with the standard of the A-League while also hoping to use his return home as a springboard to re-igniting his Socceroos aspirations.

"I think technically the Australian players are very sound but tactically we still have to learn a lot in comparison to Europe," he said.

"But we have seen from the success of Adelaide in the (Asian) Champions League and from the Socceroos in Asia that we are learning about things like the transition from defence to attack and vice-versa."

And as for his national career, Thwaite admits his recent ankle injury (which saw him miss the win over Qatar) was a blow but he is confident he can force his way back into Pim Verbeek's squad.

"Obviously the ligament injury didn't help my cause (last time) but when I first came to Melbourne, Pim thought it was a good decision so I think he is looking at players that are playing regularly so I am sure my opportunity (to play for Australia) will arise again."