17 Dec 2011

Big week for Melbourne Victory starts with Phoenix game

12:45 pm on 17 December 2011

The Wellington Phoenix are the first opponents for the underachieving Melbourne Victory as they enter a key week in their A-League season.

The Phoenix visit Melbourne's AAMI Park on Sunday before a derby against Melbourne Heart on Friday as the Victory try to move from eighth place into the top six playoff zone.

Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic says he senses Brisbane Roar's stumble back into the A-League pack means an indifferent start to the season could cost the Victory nothing come finals time.

The Victory remain patchy and generally unconvincing, but were probably more dominant than in any other game this season in the 1-1 draw with Adelaide United last week.

But the Phoenix, who have climbed into the A-League top four by beating the Roar midweek, are playing well and even without injured striker Paul Ifill can test any team in the competition on the right day.

While the Victory have won just twice in 10 games, they have only lost twice and Harry Kewell's excellence last weekend suggests maybe the club is about to turn things around.

Durakovic must decide whether to restore experienced central defender Rodrigo Vargas and midfielder Grant Brebner to the starting line-up.

Vargas returns from a two-match suspension, while Brebner was effective as a substitute last weekend and looks almost certain to start.