Muscat delighted by Socceroo exclusion, Joyce wants to give fans hope

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Asked if he had needed to speak to disappointed players, Muscat was upbeat about their responses.

”(It’s) about the way they train. If I sensed there is need for a discussion we’ll have a discussion, but as I said, there hasn’t been too much need.

”It’s been inflamed. James’ statements yesterday (were) his opinion. What I’m concerned about James Troisi at Melbourne Victory and he’s scored some really important goals, he’s been a big contributor for us over a period of time and my last memory was the superb ball he put in last week for Kosta’s (Barbarouses) goal. So I’m really happy for him.”

Victory will once again be without Spanish midfielder Raul Baena and German defender Georg Niedermeier.

”It’s the same squad as last week. Obviously Nick Ansell came into the squad last week so he’s had another week of training. Kenny Athiu also has trained now for coming up to two weeks so he’ll be in the mix again. We’ve got another couple of bodies back that we can chose from based on last week’s squad.

”Georg and Raul are working away but this week’s too soon for them and we’ll take our time with them.”

Warren Joyce, his City counterpart, is likely to stick with the bulk of the squad who did so well in Adelaide last Sunday when they beat the FFA Cup winners 2-0 in front of their own fans.

”Everybody is fit and training all week and looking forward to the game.

”Michael O’Halloran (the Scottish winger who has been out with injury all season) has trained this week. The players who played last week did pretty well. He has thrown his name in the hat with other players like Osama Mailk.

Christmas cheer: A Melbourne City supporter shares the spirit last year.

Christmas cheer: A Melbourne City supporter shares the spirit last year.Credit:AAP

”Curtis Good is back in the reckoning from being suspended as well.”

He was guarded as to whether youngster Ramy Najjarine, who made such a good impression in his 65-minute cameo against Adelaide, would start, but he says the man Najjarine replaced, Belgian defender Ritchie De Laet, would be part of the group for Saturday.

”De Laet will be fit. He is in the matchday squad.”

Joyce was asked about the decision by the club’s active fan base to disband after this match, and he said that he hoped the club’s supporters would stick with the team and what the club was trying to achieve.

”You are trying to build up the fan base, get fans that are passionate and believe in the thing we are trying to do as a football club.

”We are a new club and there are people who have supported us all the way through and have got a passion for the club.

”You are trying to grow that fan base so that everybody who comes along is desperate for us to be winning and successful and proud to support the club.”

Michael Lynch, The Age’s expert on soccer, has had extensive experience of high level journalism in the UK and Australia. Michael has covered the Socceroos through Asia, Europe and South America in their past three World Cup campaigns. He has also reported on Grands Prix and top class motor sport from Asia and Europe. He has won several national media awards for both sports and industry journalism.

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