Plenty of intrigue in Muscat’s keeper call
MELBOURNE Victory coach Kevin Muscat has a big selection call to make on his goalkeepers for Saturday's mega clash away to A-League leaders Perth Glory.
Lawrence Thomas, Victory's No.1 keeper since 2016 and on the Socceroos' standby list for the Asian Cup, was dropped for the Melbourne side's last game.
Back-up Matt Acton took over between the posts in the 2-1 win against Brisbane Roar. After the game, Muscat was cagey but hinted Thomas needed to improve if he was to win back his place.
With five rounds left before the finals, Victory is 10 points adrift of Tony Popovic's Glory, but it is eyeing off Sydney FC, just a point ahead in second spot.
Marquee superstar Keisuke Honda and Olyroos defender Tommy Deng are set to meet the team in Perth on Friday. Both have been involved in initial Asian qualifying in Cambodia for the Tokyo 2020 Games - Honda as coach of Cambodia.
While Honda is expected to start and Deng will be assessed by the high performance team, Thomas's status will be of most intrigue for the Saturday night's blockbuster.
Asked after the Roar game if the goalkeeper's spot was now Acton's to lose, Muscat said: "Yeah well, it's like anybody. Carl Valeri's got to fight for his place, Terry Antonis, Elvis (Kamsoba) have got to fight for their place.
"We need better from Lawrence, so he's got to fight for his place also.
"I selected Matt Acton. It's more about selecting Matt Acton, than dropping Lawrence."
Captain Carl Valeri is likely to start after two substitute appearances following a hamstring injury.
An intensive few days of training at Gosch's Paddock offset the week off for the FIFA international break, and Valeri said he was itching to go, having not started since the win over Central Coast on February 2.
"The break did refresh me," Valeri said. "We've got a big finish to the season. First game against Perth, what better way to start? Perth's consistency (is its strong point). We've also found our consistency, despite the rough patch the last month.
"If it was anyone else I would be worried (about rejoining the team late), but Keisuke's just a machine, he's a beast. I know he's away, probably working harder than us.
"So we're totally serene and relaxed because we know his professionalism and work ethic is amazing, and he'll be fully prepared. His hunger to win is amazing and you can see that with everything that he does."