Mullen to slot straight in for Victory
Melbourne Victory recruit Daniel Mullen will start in the heart of defence against the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old defender joined the Victory on loan from Chinese Super League club Dalian Aerbin on Tuesday.
Victory coach Ange Postecoglou has struggled to find cover for the injured Nick Ansell and Mullen will be rushed into the starting 11 to face the Wanderers at AAMI Park.
"We obviously have got quite a few absences and there is seven games plus finals to go so there is no point in easing him in," Postecoglou said on Friday.
"He's feeling pretty comfortable with things. He's had a good pre-season and we'll throw him in there. I'm sure he'll acquit himself well."
Postecoglou dismissed concerns surrounding the fitness of Mark Milligan, who will take his place in midfield.
Star forward Archie Thompson (hamstring) will miss the Wanderers clash, while Adama Traore is also absent after being sent off in the 1-0 loss to Adelaide last time out.
A win for Victory would lift them above Western Sydney and into second in the A-League, with Tony Popovic's new boys performing well above expectations this campaign.
Postecoglou said the Wanderers' foreign contingent – including the likes of Shinji Ono, Youssouf Hersi and Mateo Poljak – had been a key to making them successful in their first season.
"They're obviously well coached and well organised and the players seem to have bought into the whole philosophy of the football club and they are running on that momentum now which is a pretty powerful thing," he said.
"They're obviously playing with a lot of confidence and probably playing a little bit fearlessly because they have certainly exceeded everyone's expectations.
"They've got some good players, there is no doubt about it, particularly their foreigners who have done really well and all of them are on the park and that's a pretty good effort. Not many clubs have been able to do that.
"They've had a fantastic first season in the A-League and they're certainly making their presence known."
At least two A-League clubs, most notably the Melbourne Heart, are interested in signing Lucas Neill, but Postecoglou said the Victory had held no discussions with the Australia captain.
The former Brisbane coach said he was disappointed to see the Roar miss out on a spot in the AFC Champions League group stages after losing a playoff to Buriram United in Thailand on Wednesday night.
"Disappointing – obviously for them but also Australian football," Postecoglou said.
"I was really hoping they would go through because you would like to see two (Australian) teams. We probably should have three teams in there.
"I was pretty disappointed that we only got one-and-a-half spots and I still don't understand how that happened.
"I think we are good enough to have two, probably two-and-a-half spots and I think we deserve that, but if we don't get results while we are in the competition then it makes it harder to put that case forward."