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Dec 10, 2008   |  8:21PM AET

Merrick welcomes breather

Merrick welcomes breather

Ernie Merrick believes this week’s enforced break from the Hyundai A-League could be a blessing in disguise for Melbourne Victory.

Ernie Merrick believes this week’s enforced break from the Hyundai A-League could be a blessing in disguise for Melbourne Victory.

While the club would have loved the opportunity to instantly atone for two successive losses on the road, Merrick says the postponement of Friday night’s clash against Adelaide United until January 6 – because of the Reds’ commitment to the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan – will help his team on two counts.

Firstly it will help freshen his team up following a gruelling recent travel schedule and secondly it will enable key players to be 100 percent ready to go for the club’s next match – away against bottom club Newcastle on Friday December 19.

Melbourne has played five of its last seven games on the road and has made its two longest trips back-to-back, having gone to Wellington and then Perth in the past fortnight.

But after the Newcastle game, Melbourne has the luxury of playing five of its last six games at home after Christmas.

Merrick admitted on Wednesday his team had begun to feel the affects of its recent travel schedule but said that was no excuse for losing to both the Phoenix and the Glory which has resulted in the Victory slipping to second place on the ladder.

“We have to kick on from here,” Merrick said after training at Olympic Park.

“The two-week break will be good for us physically and maybe mentally as well.”

“It’s been a lot of travelling (for the team) and in fact the last seven games we have only had two at home.”

“But we can’t use that as an excuse and it’s very important we get something out of the Newcastle game.”

Melbourne was forced to take on Perth not only without number one striker Archie Thompson, who was an unused substitute due to knee problems, but also Evan Berger, who missed again due to his injured hamstring, while midfield playmaker Carlos Hernandez was again only fit enough to come on as a second-half substitute following his recent quad injury.

But Merrick says all three should be ready to return to the starting line-up for the Newcastle clash, if Melbourne decides to make changes.

“Knowing we have got Evan Berger, Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez as options to come in is a very positive thing for us,” Merrick said.

“We are still in the top two but it’s about controlling what we can control and getting back to our standard of play but at least we know we can freshen up the team and it’s important to do that because you really have to get motivated to play away from home against a parochial crowd and with the travelling effect.”