Muscat’s Motley Crew Head to Hunter

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Victory’s frustrating past month will have to be put aside almost immediately, as they embark on a gruelling schedule which sees them play three games in eight days starting Friday. They will face a Newcastle side that is coming off two losses to Perth Glory and Adelaide United.

The Issues

Not all is well for the Victory after taking just seven points from a potential fifteen in their month-long home run and now look certain to be without captain Mark Milligan, as he reportedly limped off the training track today at Gosch’s Paddock. Coming off an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Brisbane, Victory find themselves needing to bounce back quickly as they face a hectic schedule of three matches inside eight days.

Newcastle themselves are in need of a win, suffering two losses on the bounce and will fancy their chances at home. They were frustrated by a smash and grab effort by Perth Glory last weekend, and could consider themselves hard done by as they had, what looked a goal, denied by the referee and his assistants. Issues still surround the future of Nathan Burns, as the Jets are still hoping to hold on to him for the rest of the season but will be flying back to Korea to sort out his future following this fixture.

The Ins and Outs

Already light on for squad members as Adrian Leijer is suspended and Jason Geria, Nick Ansell, Connor Pain and Scott Galloway all head off on international duty, Victory’s back is against the proverbial wall. Their losses will be balanced out slightly with the return of Archie Thompson, who will fly with the squad and will play some role in the match. Youth players Andrew Nabbout, Rashid Mahazi, Francesco Stella, Jesse Makarounas and Dylan Murnane all get their chance as Kevin Muscat has named an extended squad.

Newcastle Jets have themselves been forced into many changes as Kew Jaliens will miss through suspension as will Andrew Hoole, Connor Chapman, Josh Brillante and Adam Taggart on Australian duty at the AFC U-22 Championships. In their place will be Michael Bridges, Joey Gibbs, James Virgili and Josh Mitchell.

The 90 Minutes

It is hard to know how this match will play out with so many ins and outs, but it is hard to see Victory coming home with a win. There are lessons to be learnt from the last time these two met, as Newcastle surprised the Victory at AAMI Park last month with a 2-1 win. The Jets played the perfect away game then, and were well led by Kew Jaliens as they defended stoutly to secure a win. But now, being at home, will more pressure be on the Jets to set the tone and press the Victory?

Victory are always one ball and quick moment away from opening up defences, and they can be hopeful of that. They will be dangerous if Thompson comes off the bench and runs at a tiring defence. A Melbourne makeshift backline will have it tough, however, if the Jets can counter effectively as they did last fixture, Victory will have a torrid time of it.

Emile Heskey will be crucial if Gary Van Egmond opts to absorb the pressure from Victory, finding a striker that can hold the ball up for the likes of Virgili will be the main outlet. This will be an interesting match to observe for the neutral, as the Roar pressed the Victory into submission, will van Egmond opt to do the same?

Katie Lambeski

Katie is Football Central's Melbourne Victory correspondent. She describes herself as a mad football fan who also likes to write about it. Follow Katie on twitter @katielambeski

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