A-League 2021 | Rudy Gestede to miss starting in Melbourne Victory’s season opener

”Rudy is not quite right in terms of his fitness. He came in later into the group and I want to protect him.

”I don’t want to expose him just yet, because he is an asset to me and the club and it would be foolish to put him in there straight away.

”I have two goalkeepers that can both play. I don’t have a number one, whoever is playing well will play. He (Crocombe) did well in Doha so therefore he will retain his position. If you play well you play.”

Victory had to go into quarantine as a squad in Sydney in early December when they returned from the Middle East, only getting back to Melbourne at the start of Christmas week.

The team used the time to train together and bond with each other – essential in a line up with so many new signings – but Brebner is optimistic that they are well prepared for the test that awaits at AAMI Park, where they hope to entertain a capacity-constrained 13,000 fans.

”Mentally we are in good shape,” the coach said.

”We have got a lot of work into the players over the last few months. Physically we have one or two that need to catch us up, but on the whole I am really happy with where we are positioned going into Saturday night.

”We have got just under 50 per cent of a new squad so it takes time. Everything we do we will get better from it over the next weeks and months but I am really happy with where we are at at the moment.

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”I am really pleased to get out of the group in the Asian Champions League and our performances got better as the tournament went on.

”For 65 minutes we more than held our own against Ulsan, the eventual winners of the Champions League, and that was with a relatively youthful Melbourne Victory team.”

  • Melbourne City received a blow with one of their main new signings, Socceroo frontman Andrew Nabbout, ruled out for six weeks because of a hamstring strain. Nabbout, who crossed from Victory in the off season, pulled up during City’s season opening 1-0 win against Brisbane on Tuesday night and had to be substituted. City faces Adelaide in South Australia on Sunday.