Popovic: We want to make them proud tomorrow

Victory Head Coach Tony Popovic has implored his team to make their members and fans proud in Saturday night’s Melbourne Derby.

Recent bragging rights have gone the way of Melbourne City but after a promising start to the new season the next instalment of the Derby is expected to be a tight contest.

“We want to make them proud tomorrow,” Popovic said of the Victory supporters set to take over AAMI Park.

“We want them to see a Melbourne Victory side that gets them up tomorrow morning full of optimism about what their team can produce, and then after the game to send them home proud and happy with the result we give them.”

Popovic got his first taste of a heated Victory rivalry last week in the team’s 2-1 win over Adelaide United and expects an even higher intensity clash against City.

“It is a special game and we have to embrace that,” he said.

“Derby games should be full of passion, on and off the field, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Star winger Chris Ikonomidis hasn’t featured since Round 1 but could boost Victory’s chances with a possible return on Saturday night.

The 26-year-old Socceroo enjoyed success under Popovic at Perth Glory and is hoping to build towards peak performance after training fully this week.

“He’s trained this week, so he’s available,” Popovic said.

“We’re happy he’s back training with the team. He’ll just get better and better from now on.”

Victory sits two points clear of City on the table through four matches, meaning a win for either side will see them positioned ahead of their cross-town rival after Round 5.