Melbourne Victory coach Carlos Salvachua will give winger Marco Rojas his first start since rejoining the club for the third time when they take on Newcastle in a must-win match if Victory are to have a chance of making the A-League finals.
Salvachua on Friday described the Saturday night game at McDonald Jones Stadium as a “finals match”, so high were the stakes for the A-League powerhouse mired in ninth position.
Marco Rojas has been eased back in at Melbourne Victory.Credit:Getty Images
“We have four wins for the year … now we have to win the next game in Newcastle. Every game is like a finals match,” he said before the team flew to NSW.
“He [Rojas] is ready to start, which is good news for us, for the fans.
“We cannot lose more players in the year. He was the last arrival, but now after three or four weeks with us, he is ready,” Salvachua said, having had to ease Rojas into the starting line-up because of a lack of fitness following his arrival from Europe.
Leigh Broxham, who has been out through suspension and injury, will also travel with the team. If fit, says Salvachua, the club’s talisman and versatile utility will start.
“We will see if he can play or not. He is important for the club and the group,” said Salvachua, who will also bring the often-injured centre back Tim Hoogland and Danish midfielder Jakob Poulsen (neither of whom is in the Asian Champions League squad) back in for the Jets game.
The last time these teams met – on January 5 in Melbourne – Marco Kurz was coaching Victory and Ernie Merrick was in charge of the Jets. Merrick got fired the day after the 4-0 win by Victory, while Kurz lasted barely a week longer, dismissed following Victory’s 3-2 loss at Central Coast after the next game.
Salvachua has enjoyed success in the ACL since taking over in mid-January, but he has yet to win an A-League game.
The Jets appointed former Welsh international Carl Robinson earlier this month: his first game in charge was the 1-1 draw at Bankwest Stadium last Saturday against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Salvachua does not believe the easy win Victory had in the teams’ past encounter will have any bearing this time.
“We are not in good position, both teams changed coaches, it will be a different game.”
Salvachua is also sweating on the results of scans for Jay Barnett, the young midfielder who injured his leg in the ACL game this week.
It has been a testing time for Victory in the past 10 days: after beating Thai champions Chiangrai 1-0 in Melbourne, they flew from an Australian summer to a South Korean winter, losing 1-0 to FC Seoul on Tuesday.
Salvachua and his tired players arrived back in Melbourne only on Thursday before a training session and then a trip north on Friday.
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