Mark Milligan appears to be ready for a quick return but Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat will wait until as late as tomorrow morning to make the final call on his skipper, following the Socceroos’ weekend and mid-week fixtures in the Middle East.
“We’ll assess him, he’s looked good this morning. He flew in last night, he’s fine and he’s healthy. He looked nice and sharp this morning, but a decision won’t be made until later on tonight or possibly tomorrow morning,” Muscat said.
Muscat praised his side’s most valuable player’s ability to handle the quick turnarounds, revealing the club wanted to give Milligan the morning off.
“He’s used to it, he made a big effort to get on a plane last night and get here. We tried to keep him away from the place and give him a morning off, he wouldn’t have it. Like I said, he looked sharp and he’s put his hand up to play,” he said.
“Millsy is the captain of our football club, he was determined to get back here last night and get a good night’s rest. We gotta careful, I suppose, to punish him for going away for the national team also. But its certainly a good problem to have.”
With what appears to be a return for Milligan, Muscat was pressed on who he would replace, with last week’s man of the match candidate Leigh Broxham looking the likely casualty.
Muscat appeared to indicate a return to defence was not on the cards for the cult hero.
“The aim was to try create competition for places and that’s what we’ve done. It’s a good problem, Brox performed well last week, everyone performed well. How to try pick an individual out of that last week would be pretty difficult. We’ll make a decision on it as late as tomorrow morning,” the Victory boss said.
“Brox has done a remarkable job for us in the last 24 months filling in spaces and positions, what we’ve tried to do is eliminate that from happening and making sure we have enough cover and enough depth. At this point in time, everyone’s fit and there’s a good pool of players to choose from.”
Following a complete team performance the past weekend, the aim is now to match it and go even further, according to Muscat.
“There was a number of things. First of all, we prepared well and then we analysed the opposition and you come up with solutions but ultimately, it comes down to application. It was spot on, we mixed great determination and grit with great intensity. It was a good game of football, an attacking game of football. Friday night, we go across and try match that, I dare say we’ll go one step further,” he said.
One of the A-League’s original rivalries, Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United have a history of producing some of the best contests in the league’s short history.
With the match being hosted at Adelaide Oval and more people through the gates, the usually hostile reception reserved for Victory may go further.
“Without doubt (a hostile reception) is expected. Dare I say, the atmosphere when we play in Adelaide is pretty good and you feel like you’re at a football game,” Muscat said.
“From our perspective, everything we’ve done, from recovery onward has been getting over there and getting on the front foot. We certainly know they try and attack as well and wanna go forward. It will be a arm-wrestle, we’re looking forward to it.”
It was clear from last week Adelaide pressed Brisbane high up the park. For Victory, that may prove to give themselves a target to attack, after ripping the Wanderers apart by finding space up the back repeatedly.
“We’re happy for teams to have a go at us and return fire immediately as well. We’ll back ourselves, we’ve done a lot of work and we feel very comfortable where we sit in terms of our physical condition, to go punch-for-punch with them,” he said.
“They did press quite high and they got some rewards for that, we noticed that. We had a good look at them pre-season as well, we know enough about them, but its more about what we do.”