Muscat provides squad update


Melbourne Victory Head Coach Kevin Muscat has flagged imminent relief on the injury front, forecasting full returns for as many as four first team regulars in the coming weeks.

But for the visit of Wellington Phoenix on Sunday there’ll be just the one change.

“We’ll have the same squad as we took to Brisbane. Obviously the one that comes into the squad is Kenny [Athiu],” Muscat said Saturday. 

“In relation to the make-up of the team I don’t envisage too many changes. We’ve had a nice time to prepare for the game and we’re looking forward to it.”

As for those on the comeback trail, plenty of Muscat’s men are making positive strides.

“Georg [Niedermeier] and Nick [Ansell] – they’re out on the track and running, so they’re in the back end of their rehabilitation.

“Nick is just about to join the team for full training, so he’s near enough to ticked all the boxes, and  Georg has still got some tests he’s got to go through.

“Keisuke is running out on the track, so all of them are in the back end of their rehab, but none will be available [tomorrow].

“There’s a chance Nick would be available [next week], but Georg and Keisuke are unlikely [for Sydney FC].”

On Honda, Muscat believes a return to action is close, but he and the medical team will exercise the utmost caution as his recovery progresses.

“I can’t be precise, but [Keisuke] is out on the track and running now. Once they’re in that situation they’ve got some tests to get through before they can join the full group for training.

“Once they join the group you can monitor them for specific football actions that are required to be involved [in full training].”

One player closer to a full return is Spanish midfielder Raul Baena. Having been involved from the bench in each of his side’s last three matches, the man from Malaga could soon have his first start since Round 6.

“It’s unfortunate for [Raul], it we’d just been having games on the weekend he’d have played a lot more minutes.

“He’s got through the injury and come in where there’s no real training for him to strengthen, so we’ve taken a little bit more time with him.

“Without doubt [he’ll be involved this weekend]. It’s getting to the point where he’s ready to start, but without the training between [matches] and building him up maybe it’s a risk I’m not willing to take.”