[close]

Victory taking Reds A-League defeat hard

Kevin Muscat says Melbourne Victory will show a response against Newcastle after their first A-League loss in 10 games.

Victory taking Reds A-League defeat hard

Kevin Muscat says Melbourne Victory will show a response against Newcastle after their first A-League loss in 10 games.

KEVIN MUSCAT, Head Coach of the Victory speaks to his players during a Melbourne Victory A-League training session at Gosch's Paddock in Melbourne, Australia.
KEVIN MUSCAT, Head Coach of the Victory speaks to his players during a Melbourne Victory A-League training session at Gosch's Paddock in Melbourne, Australia. Picture:Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Melbourne Victory might be running on fumes during a busy A-League stretch, but coach Kevin Muscat isn't looking for excuses ahead of Saturday's visit of Newcastle.

Though if he wanted to, he could find plenty.


The absence of key midfielder Keisuke Honda is the club's chief complaint, with Victory winning just one in four since the Japanese star's injury.

Fellow import George Niedermeier and central defender Nick Ansell are also out, leaving Victory with an odd couple at the back - Thomas Deng and Leigh Broxham.

Spanish midfielder Raul Baena hasn't started since round six, and will again be on the bench for the Jets' visit.

There's also the impact of a mid-week trip to Adelaide, meaning Victory will have had with two days' rest compared to Newcastle's five.

"I don't want it to be perceived as an excuse in any way, shape or form," Muscat said of his mounting issues.

"We're in a situation and we'll make the most of it."

Victory's 2-0 loss to United was their first in 10 A-League games, and Muscat was taking a ruthless approach in the hope of returning to winning ways.

"(The nine-match unbeaten run) didn't really get spoken about," he said.

"I never take defeats easy. I assume that the group is in the same mindset.

"It was going to happen at some stage and it happened in Adelaide.

"The group has been fantastic considering everything that we've endured.

"We look to get back on track in terms of performance tomorrow night."

The key selection issue looks to be in midfield, where Josh Hope, Elvis Kamsoba, Rahmat Akbar or even Birkan Kirdar and new signing Anthony Lesiotis might start or feature from the bench.

Ronald Vargas will miss the match due to a red card against Melbourne City last Sunday, when the 10-man Jets were unlucky to lose 2-1.

The match also brings together Muscat with Ernie Merrick for the first time since an unbecoming spat over a lack of handshake in November in their last outing.

Muscat pledged to outstretch his arm for his former coach.

"I'll acknowledge Ernie before the game like everybody, well, like most people have done to me when we travel away," he said.

"They come across and (I'll) acknowledge, as the hosts, the opponents and welcome them, wish them well. I'll do that tomorrow like I always do."

STATS THAT MATTER :

* Including last year's grand final, Victory have won the past two meetings with Newcastle. No side has managed to beat the other three times in a row

* When Victory play at AAMI Park, it's a goal glut. In Victory's last nine outings at home, no side has kept a clean sheet with an average of four scored in each game

* The Jets aren't travelling well. They've not scored outside NSW in five matches, losing four of them.

AAP


AAP




Latest Stories