Saturday's Melbourne derby is nicely poised, with Victory among the competition's form sides and Heart needing to keep pace with the finals race
|By GOAL AUSTRALIA
Foschini, Ansell, Leijer, Traore
Celeski, Milligan, BroxhamRojas, Flores, Thompson
Walker, Gerhardt, Vrankovic, Mitchinson
Germano, Garcia, Thompson
Babalj, Tadic, Williams
The blue side of Melbourne has been in good form of late and is second in the standings, five points behind leaders Central Coast.
Heart have lost two of their past three and are in sixth position with bottom-of-the-table Wellington only four points behind.
Victory could make minimal changes to their line-up after their comfortable 3-1 win over Sydney FC on Australia Day. New signing Francesco Stella appeared in the final 14 minutes of that game and now it could be the turn of fellow signing Jesse Makarounas, who has impressed at National Youth League level.
The one definite change will come about due to Diogo Ferreira's suspension, with 17-year-old Scott Galloway likely to beat out Matthew Foschini to step into the breach at right-back.
With the departures of Vince Grella [retirement] and Aziz Behich [Bursaspor], Melbourne Heart's squad will become even more stretched, particularly with the absences of captain Fred [quad] and Simon Colosimo [calf].
Full-back Sam Mitchinson could replace Behich while 17-year-old Ben Garuccio is an option to play.
Returning striker Eli Babalj played 31 minutes against the Wanderers and may be ready to start the derby.
A full-strength Heart line-up is capable of beating any team in the competition, but the inexperienced squad may struggle to rise to the big occasion.
Aloisi's side will be bolstered by the likely start of Babalj, and the powerful striker will cause the Victory defence problems if they are not on their game.
Heart will try and exploit 18-year-old central defender Nick Ansell, but the youngster has acquitted himself well in his seven appearances this season.
Marcos Flores will endure a tough time in advanced midfield with tough-tackling pair Matt Thompson and Jonathan Germano snapping at his heels.
It will be a good test of Flores' credentials as he has endured a mixed season, and his class needs to shine through if Victory are to win.