Victory A-League star 'has a lot to prove'

July 11, 2011
By Sam Lienert

Melbourne Victory star playmaker Carlos Hernandez faces a big task to win back team-mates' respect after being suspended for disciplinary reasons, says captain Adrian Leijer.

Hernandez has been dumped for Wednesday night's glamour friendly against giant Scottish club Celtic for failing to turn up at the start of last week when Victory began pre-season training.

The skilful Costa Rican, who won the Johnny Warren Medal as the A-League's best player in 2009-10, returned several days late after trialling with a US Major League Soccer club.

Leijer, who has inherited the captaincy from retired fellow defender Kevin Muscat, said he had been consulted on the decision to ban Hernandez and hopes the message sinks in.

"We were very disappointed," Leijer told reporters on Tuesday.

"He's let his team-mates down and now he's got a lot of work to do to get the respect back from his team-mates.

"I think the club's handled it well. They've handled him the right way. At the end of the day, it's not good enough.

"As players, we won't stand for it and, as coaches, they've shown they won't either."

While Hernandez will be missing, Victory will field fellow Costa Rican Jean Carlos Solorzano for the first time against Celtic.

The 23-year-old striker scored 11 goals last season for reigning A-League champions Brisbane Roar.

Exciting ex-Wellington Phoenix 19-year-old Marco Rojas will also play his first match for Melbourne.

They join stalwarts Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp in what Leijer believes will be a potent attack, despite the off-season loss of Robbie Kruse.

"They are great players. The quality at training this week has been fantastic. Going forward, we are very dangerous," Leijer said.

Wednesday night's match will be the last of Celtic's three-game pre-season tour of Australia, the club having been surprised 1-0 by Central Coast Mariners, before outclassing Perth Glory 2-0.

Celtic captain Scott Brown said they were improving steadily during the trip.

"As every training session goes on and every game, we're getting sharper and fitter. We're getting more confident on the ball as well," Brown said.

Brown will hand over the captaincy for the game to Greek striker Georgios Samaras, whose father was born in Melbourne.

A crowd of more than 20,000 is expected at AAMI Park.