|By PAUL BARBIERI
Melbourne Victory midfielder Mark Milligan says it will be a true test of the team's character to turn around their recent form slump.
The Victory have lost their past three games and their defence was brutally exposed by league leader Central Coast last Saturday night as the Melbourne side were thrashed 6-2.
Heading into Sunday's clash with Newcastle at AAMI Park, the Victory are staring down the barrel of a record four consecutive A-League losses, but Milligan has challenged his team-mates to rise to the occasion and show their true colours.
"One of the hardest things in football is when you're in maybe a little bit of a slump and you've lost a couple of games, is to come out of it," Milligan said on Thursday.
"It's always smiles and quite easy going when you're winning games but it shows the true character of a team to turn things around.
"So it's going to be a test for us ... for us as a team and we I think we really need to step up this weekend, mentally as much as physically in the playing sense.
"I don't think we're a bad team. I think we've had a bit of a bad run and we just have to turn it around quickly."
The Victory squad were put through an intense training session on Thursday at AAMI Park as a vocal Ange Postecoglou made sure his players were kept on their toes.
Milligan said the tough session was exactly what the players needed as they put aside the post-match soul searching.
"We've spoken about it (the loss), we've done all that, but at the end of the day we can speak about it all we want, it doesn't help," Milligan said.
"We need to get on with it and train and work hard on the things that went wrong and make sure that doesn't happen again.
"We have had our little period of hurting after the game but there's no point crying about it all week otherwise it's just going to hurt us again this weekend.
"We as a team, we didn't execute things that we wanted to and we got hurt, especially late in the game.
"And it comes down to the players, we need to stick together and turn it around this weekend.
"The only way to do that is to play the way that we have been and do the right things during the week and on the weekend."
Victory striker Archie Thompson (hamstring) looks likely to return to the side after missing the past two matches, even though he did not participate in full training on Thursday.
But playmaker Marcos Flores (quad) will miss this weekend's match as he recovers from a quad injury.