Melbourne Victory face a challenge to rebound from their heavy loss to A-League frontrunners Brisbane with a question mark over Mitch Nichols.
Melbourne Victory face an uphill task to rebound from their Brisbane mauling with suspension, injury and a question mark over star midfielder Mitch Nichols.
The Victory were left shell-shocked after an insipid showing against the competition front-runners at AAMI Park, losing 3-0.
Coach Kevin Muscat said the players needed to take a look at themselves to remain in touch with the Roar, who are now seven points clear of the chasing pack.
“All of us are going to have to have a good look in the mirror and take responsibility for ourselves and analyse our own performances and bounce back next week,” he said.
Veteran defender Adrian Leijer will miss the Newcastle away match on Friday after he was red-carded for a second bookable offence when he tripped Brisbane forward Henrique.
“That was the second time he’s been sent off this season so from his perspective it was a poor decision to get his two yellow cards,” Muscat said.
Melbourne desperately missed Chilean Pablo Contreras, who was sidelined with a groin injury.
His centre-back replacement Nick Ansell is one of four young Victory players heading off to the Asian Football Confederation under-22 championship in Oman.
Muscat was hopeful both Contreras and Socceroos striker Archie Thompson, who has missed five games with a hamstring injury, will be back to face the Jets.
Nichols was benched at halftime, when his team was still very much in the match and trailed 1-0 after a stunning Roar team goal converted by Liam Miller.
The 24-year-old is in the sights of J.League club Cerezo Osaka, however the Victory are playing hardball after failing to entertain a $200,000 offer for the Queenslander.
Nichols signed a two-year deal in May to stay in Melbourne but has ambitions to play overseas to enhance his World Cup prospects.
Muscat believed Nichols, one of the Victory’s best through the first 10 games of the season, was distracted.
“He’s got a lot on his mind at the moment and he wasn’t anywhere near his previous best,” Muscat said.
“At this point in time he’s a contracted player so I don’t want to keep chasing it around in circles.
“Until this football club accepts an offer for Mitch he’s a contracted player.”