Kevin Muscat says there is nothing that can be done about players missing.
Kevin Muscat says there is nothing that can be done about players missing. JULIAN SMITH

Victory coach says missing players not in mindset

KEVIN Muscat doesn't care for excuses.

Winless Melbourne Victory faces an uphill battle to break its season duck against Western Sydney at Etihad Stadium Monday night considering the raft of players it has on the unavailable list.

James Troisi and Kosta Barbarouses are away on international duty, as is young gun Christian Theoharous who would likely have come into the side, while striker Besart Berisha is suspended.

It could have been worse.

Mark Milligan can play only because he is suspended for the first leg of Australia's World Cup qualifiers against Honduras, Leroy George has been declared fit despite coming off with a hamstring complaint last week, while Leigh Broxham is also set to line-up despite having a light week on the track because of his own hamstring issues.

But Muscat doesn't care for any of that.

"The continuity of players playing together, it does have some effect,” Muscat said.

"But I'm not going to allow that (mindset) creep in.

"We've got 11 players who will go out, and five on the bench, with a positive mindset.

"They've got a good opportunity to put in a good game against a decent team.”

It is the attack that has been affected most, but Muscat said his side's defensive structures - namely the way the team presses - will remain in tact.

The coach also intimated a change of formation could be in the offing, with a flatter midfield three a possibility to allow Matias Sanchez to come in along with Milligan and captain Carl Valeri.

"We've had a longer week, so we've looked at a few things,” he said.

"Millsy can play a little bit higher than the others, or it can be a situation where (Leroy George), as he did in that first game, plays as that attacking midfielder.

"So we've got a few different options available to us.”

Former Heidelberg star Kenny Athiu - who scored the winning goal against Perth in this year's FFA Cup - also appears a chance to make his debut.

This despite the striker only training with his teammates in any structured sessions with the ball for the first time on Friday, having been nursing a toe injury after an arduous Victorian season.

"We would've liked to have left him another week or two,” Muscat said.

"Is he anywhere near where he needs to be? No. But the circumstances fast-forwarded that and he'll be involved.”