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Victory ready for Heart

MELBOURNE Victory is set to be at full strength for the season opening derby against Melbourne Heart at Etihad Stadium next week, but its rival will be without a key midfielder and a striking option.

Heart's Argentinian utility Jonatan Germano, who can play wide, in midfield or as a full-back, injured his ankle in a pre-season game against Northcote City earlier this month and will not be ready in time for the start of the campaign.

And Golgol Mebrahtu, a forward rescued from the wreckage of Gold Coast United, is also under an injury cloud with a groin problem.

Victory's only major injury concern has been midfielder Billy Celeski, who has missed a lot of the pre-season. He will be assessed in the days leading up to the kick-off.

Heart goes into the derby game with a squad of 20 players, leaving the club three short of the maximum number allowed on the roster.

Football Operations manager John Didulica is happy to have some positions up his sleeve to promote players from the youth team during the campaign or sign an experienced player if one became available.

''Last year Craig Goodwin came up from the youth team but he had to play on a youth contract. Adrian Madaschi came into the club as an injury replacement signing and helped us out a lot but we couldn't sign him because we were full.''

Meanwhile, Victory coach Ange Postecoglou says his team is tapering down after its heaviest seven days of the pre-season.

''We played two A-League sides [Central Coast on the Sunday, Perth on the Wednesday] and then had an intra club match on the Sunday.''

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