Fringe players get a chance for Victory

January 3, 2007
By Sam Lienert

Melbourne Victory's No.2 goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic is among a large group of fringe squad members desperate to stake a claim for a finals spot on Sunday.

The Victory's dominant form in the A-League this season, combined with a minimal injury count, has meant the starting line-up has rarely changed.

That has left a group of about six players whose main roles for most of the season have been to warm the bench and provide match practice for teammates at training.

But that will change in Sunday's match against Perth Glory, with coach Ernie Merrick to field a starting XI likely to be without seven regulars.

"We've had a consistent 13 players that have played all season," Galekovic said.

"There's about six players that have constantly missed out, so it's been hard on them, but if the team keeps winning it's hard to get in for a spot.

"Most of them have got their chance this week, so if they can impress this week anything can happen."

Of the regular starting side, Archie Thompson and Adrian Leijer are out suspended, while Daniel Piorkowski is missing through injury.

Merrick has also opted to rest Brazilian midfielder Fred, while he is likely to start captain Kevin Muscat and leading goal-scorer Daniel Allsopp on the bench.

Galekovic will also be given a chance in goal in place of Michael Theoklitos for the second week running and the fourth time this season.

While Theoklitos will return for the final two home and away matches and is expected to be don the gloves for the finals series, Galekovic said Merrick had not closed the door on him.

"Ernie's told me I've got two weeks and Mick will get the last two weeks, so it's up to him for the first week in the finals who he decides to take," Galekovic said.

"There's always competition, all you can do is do your best and in the end it's up to the coach to make his final decision."

"All I can do is concentrate on this game and hopefully I can do another good job."

Galekovic was confident the team of mostly irregular starters would combine well against the Glory.

"We've played together a lot, we've played a lot of training games and that," he said.

"It shouldn't be too hard, the first 15 minutes will tell how good we play together and I think we'll be alright."

Meanwhile, Merrick said the Victory would opt to play the first leg of its semi-final away, which it gets to choose as the minor premier.