Victory's Rojas set to start against Jets

Marco Rojas appears set for his first A-League start since returning to Melbourne Victory.
Marco Rojas appears set for his first A-League start since returning to Melbourne Victory.

Melbourne Victory are set to release the shackles on recruit Marco Rojas and hand their star signing his first A-League start in Saturday's must-win clash against Newcastle.

Interim coach Carlos Salvachua had previously taken a cautious approach to his January signing, only using Rojas off the bench in his four appearances across the A-League and Asian Champions League.

"It's good news for us, for the fans, for everybody that he's ready," Salvachua said on Friday.

"Of course we have to be careful with him - we cannot miss more players during the year.

"And Marco especially - he's the last arrival - and now I think after three or four weeks with us, now he's ready to start."

Victory are nine points outside the top six with nine games to play and Salvachua said they would be treating the Jets clash like a final.

Having only returned to Melbourne on Thursday from Tuesday's ACL loss in Seoul, Salvachua expected to have a better sense of his squad's fitness after Friday's training session.

Veteran Leigh Broxham has recovered well from a calf injury and will travel with the squad - and if fit, is set to start.

Meanwhile, young midfielder Jay Barnett, who suffered a leg injury against FC Seoul, had scans on Thursday.

Victory beat Newcastle 4-0 in December - but both clubs have since changed coaches.

Tenth-placed Newcastle have steadied in recent weeks with a win and two draws, lifting themselves off the foot of the table, and would leapfrog Victory with a win.

Jets coach Carl Robinson said midfielder Wes Hoolahan would have fitness tests as he pushed to make his debut.

The Newcastle boss was wary of a struggling Victory searching for their first A-League win under Salvachua.

"They've got key players in key areas that probably haven't performed to the levels they would like and the coach will probably be trying to do everything he can to rectify that," Robinson said.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Victory have won four of their past five A-League games against the Jets, keeping three clean sheets in that stretch.

* The Jets are undefeated in their past three A-League games, the last time they went longer without defeat was a five-game stretch from February to March in 2019.

* Victory are winless in their past five A-League games, the last time they went longer without a win was a seven-game stretch from May to November in 2017.

Australian Associated Press