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Melbourne Victory

Honda's Melbourne Victory absence revealed by Muscat

10:34 GMT+3 23/12/2018
Keisuke Honda
The Japanese gun's presence was missed during the derby

Melbourne Victory superstar Keisuke Honda has a tight lower back but the issue is not a serious problem, according to coach Kevin Muscat.

Honda was late withdrawal from Saturday night's Melbourne derby as Melbourne City's Dario Vidosic denied Victory all three points in stoppage time.

While club stalwart Leigh Broxham worked hard to replace the 32-year-old in right midfield, it was clear Victory were missing the quality provided by their marquee star.

Speaking after the 1-1 draw with their crosstown rivals, Muscat admitted Honda's absence was precautionary and he was wary of burning the Japanese playmaker out during a busy December-January period of matches.

"I could just sense that he was a little bit fatigued," Muscat said

"He's got a bit of fatigue and tightness in his lower back, so we'll do all the necessary tests and scans and get to the bottom of it.

"(After) a discussion with him on Thursday, we kept him inside on Friday and made the decision today to leave him out.

"Based on that and the amount of games we've got coming up I didn't see the reason to take what might have been a big risk.

"I don't envision (he'll be out) too long."

Muscat also revealed fellow foreign imports Georg Niedermeier and Raul Baena were both close to a return from injury with the latter a good chance to feature in next Friday's home fixture against an in-form Wellington Phoenix.