Victory No.1 Lawrence Thomas is fit again. Picture: Getty Images
Victory No.1 Lawrence Thomas is fit again. Picture: Getty Images

Muscat facing goalkeeping dilemma

KEVIN Muscat has a mega shot-stopping selection call to make for Wednesday night's defining Asian Champions League clash with Fabio Cannavaro's potent Guangzhou Evergrande.

Asian Cup standby goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas is fit and available after missing last Saturday's visit to Sydney FC on the controversial SCG pitch.

Back-up Matt Acton performed strongly despite the 2-1 loss, just a fortnight after his shock inclusion for Thomas, in the home win over Brisbane Roar.

Led by ex Barcelona and Tottenham midfielder, Brazil international Paulinho, prolific fellow countryman Talisca and China international striker Gao Lin, the two-time continental champions are equal top in the Chinese Super League.

Victory have played well but are yet to secure a point in the Champions League, after a home loss to South Koreans Daegu and away to Japanese giants Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Speaking from Guangzhou, Muscat was tight-lipped on his glovemen but faces a big call whether to play Acton, who at 26 has just 11 senior games for Victory, or noted big-game player Thomas, who's amassed 120 games.

"Lawrence is better for the extra couple of days (rest). Whether he's in contention or not, time will tell, but we certainly won't be taking any risks,'' Muscat said.

Melbourne Victory back-up goalkeeper Matt Acton. Picture: Getty Images
Melbourne Victory back-up goalkeeper Matt Acton. Picture: Getty Images

"On the flipside, Matty Acton was outstanding in his last game.

"Naturally (we are underdogs). We've put a lot of time into looking at how Guangzhou play. They're at home, expecting a massive crowd, which is exciting for us.

"With the calibre of players, it's by no means going to be easy, but it's a great opportunity to perform and get something out of the game."

Muscat was relieved that midfielder Terry Antonis had escaped serious injury after collapsing near the SCG cricket wicket, revealing that he would start training within days.

Kevin Muscat is ready for a big challenge against Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday night. Picture: AAP
Kevin Muscat is ready for a big challenge against Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday night. Picture: AAP

"It's very good news in relation to the extent of the injury. It's a matter of now starting his rehab and now that it has settled down and the swelling is almost gone, we're optimistic that he'll start training in the next day or two,'' he said.

Muscat hinted that Victory will be shuffling his players around in the final weeks of the A-League season, in a bid to claw back Sydney FC who are now four points ahead in second.

Victory host cellar dwellers Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park on Sunday.

News Corp Australia


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