It’s 70 minutes that we’ve had on hold since December but Melbourne Victory’s Isuzu UTE A-League side will have the chance to play for a crucial three points on Wednesday night in the Melbourne Derby.
In what is an unprecedented situation, Victory and City will go head-to-head in the resumption of the 40th edition of the contest from the 21st minute mark, with Victory 1-0 down, and Tony Popovic’s side will be looking to claw their way back into the contest from the first whistle.
The nature of the match will also see both sides allowed to name new starting sides and benches with injuries and transfers in both camps. With Victory bolstering their side over the January transfer window, they’ll be looking to take the momentum of the past two weeks in to the game to secure a result that could put the league on notice in the race towards the A-League Finals.
One of those to come in February was Fernando Romero and the Paraguayan returns to the selection mix after serving his one-match suspension last week for the victorious trip to Wellington. After scoring his first goal for the Club and building his relationship with fellow South American, Bruno Fornarnoli, Romero will be hungry to pick up where he left off against City.
The Cranbourne West-based team will head into the contest with a form slump that has seen them pick up four points in their last four matches and losing their last Derby matchup in February after a spirited Victory performance where Damien Da Silva, Josh Brillante and Fornaroli found the back of the net.
Couple this Matthew Leckie missing through injury, who scored a brace in the last Derby, and Victory will be looking to make the most of the situation ahead of them.
With four matches to go after Wednesday for Victory, three of which will be at home with sides outside of the top six, Wednesday could prove to be the statement match for Victory to well and truly place themselves in the Finals mix heading into the final month of the season.
Melbourne Victory squad
1.Matt ACTON, 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Enrique LOPEZ, 4.Rai MARCHAN, 5.Damien DA SILVA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 8.Josh BRILLANTE, 10.Bruno FORNAROLI, 11.Ben FOLAMI, 14.Connor CHAMPMAN, 16.Stefan NIGRO, 18. Bruce KAMAU, 19.Fernando ROMERO, 20.Paul IZZO, 21.Roderick MIRANDA, 23.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS, 24.Nishan VELUPILLAY, 26.Lleyton BROOKS, 29.Eli ADAMS
In: 19.Fernando ROMERO (returns from suspension), 2.Jason GERIA (promoted)
Unavailable: 17.Luis NANI (injured), 22.Jake BRIMMER (injured), 31.Matt BOZINOVSKI (injured)