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Archie Thompson, Jacob Melling could be in for Victory, City

Archie Thompson could be set to make his first start of the A-League season this weekend as Kevin Muscat looks to reboot his ailing team for the away trip to Newcastle on Sunday.

And Jacob Melling looks likely to come back into the Melbourne City starting eleven for the home game against Sydney on Saturday evening for his first start in several weeks.

Paulo Retre, who has been playing at full back and in midfield, is suspended for this game having picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in City’s 3-1 defeat to Brisbane last Sunday.

That was the first match John Van’t Schip’s side had lost in a month following its four wins on the spin, a run that has lifted it into third spot on the ladder.

Victory’s slump has seen them drop to fifth place  and the champions now lie nine points behind league leader Western Sydney Wanderers.

Thompson lined up wide on the left in a training drill on Thursday morning where Fahid Ben Khalfallah took on a central role, with Besart Berisha expected to start as the spearhead as Victory looks to reverse its poor run of results against the Jets in the Hunter Valley.

The last two occasions it has met the Jets Victory has lost 1-0 – at home last season, in what was the biggest upset of the year, and away at the start of this season, when it went down by the same scoreline to David Carney’s screamer.

Victory’s Brazilian midfielder Gui Finkler continued to train alone on Thursday, away from the team, as he battles to recover from what is said to be a minor calf injury. He will not be available for the trip to the Hunter Valley.

If Thompson comes in it is likely to be Jesse Makarounas who misses out, although few would be surprised if the disappointing Ben Khalfallah, who has failed to reach the same heights as he did last season, finally paid the price for his poor form this time round and was dropped to the bench.

City will be looking to bounce back from that reverse in Brisbane when its winning run came to an end.

Retre’s absence is the perfect opportunity to bring Melling back into the fold, the combative youngster adding the grunt and spark that will be needed to compete against Sydney’s midfield.

Northern Ireland international Aaron Hughes travelled to Brisbane but did not play, so he will be hoping to finally get 90 minutes this week if Van’t Schip decides to make a change in the heart of defence where Jack Clisby has done well filling in for the injured Connor Chapman and Hughes himself.

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