Robbie Kruse to saved for start of domestic season

Robbie Kruse has been left out of Melbourne Victory’s AFC Champions League squad, with the Socceroos attacker to instead focus on regaining full fitness for the upcoming A-League season.

Kruse, 32. missed the closing stages of the Victory’s disappointing 2019-20 A-League campaign in July and August after suffering a knee injury at training.

He successfully underwent surgery on his knee, and has been training in recent weeks with his Victory teammates.

But rather than fly to Qatar with the Victory squad on Thursday for the remainder of the club’s 2020 Champions League commitments, Kruse will stay in Melbourne to ensure his fitness for the new A-League season starting on December 27.

“He’s returned ahead of schedule, he’s already on the grass, (but) of course we can’t push him until we get the green light from his surgeon in terms where we can go and how quickly we can move that forward,” Victory coach Grant Brebner said.

“He’s like another new signing for me. moving forward but he won’t be going to Qatar.

“It doesn’t make sense to take him all the way over there in terms of what we’re under quarantine wise, so he’ll stay here and continue his rehab and then hopefully meet up with us in Sydney when we come back.”

The Victory squad will spend two weeks in quarantine in Sydney when they return to Australia next month, and are hopeful of being allowed to train together in that time.

Depending on how far they progress in the Champions League, the Victory’s start to the A-League might be delayed and they could be forced to spend Christmas and/or New Year’s Day in a Sydney hotel.

“It’s going to be tough but I have spoken to the players about it – it’s not something we’re shirking away from,” Brebner said.

“We’re going to the competition. We want to win games, and if it means that we’re in a hotel over Christmas and New Year, it means we’re doing really well.

“That’s the price we’ll pay, but I think it’s worth it if we do well in this competition.”

In Qatar, the Victory are certain to play four Group E matches – two against Beijing FC (China), and the others against Chiangrai United (Thailand) and FC Seoul (South Korea).

Currently third in their group on three points, the Victory must finish in the top two to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.

“It will be a fantastic opportunity to play a pre-season in a competition that means something, and get as much as we can out of it with a view to coming back here and starting our A-League campaign,” Brebner said.

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Victory star Robbie Kruse suffers knee injury

Socceroos and Melbourne Victory attacker Robbie Kruse will miss the rest of the A-League season after suffering a knee injury on the training paddock.

Kruse, who has only made 11 A-League appearances since returning to the Victory last year from Germany, had been preparing for the re-start of the Victory’s campaign against Western United on Saturday at Bankwest Stadium.

But after hurting his knee while training in quarantine in NSW with his Victory teammates, Kruse is set to head to his home city of Brisbane.

While his knee may require minor surgery, Kruse is expected to be fit for the start of the 2020-21 A-League season in December.

The 10th-placed Victory are all but out of finals contention this season, with 31-year-old Kruse’s injury the latest blow in what has been a disappointing campaign for the former competition heavyweights.

The Victory had already lost talisman Ola Toivonen, who left the club during the A-League’s enforced suspension to join Swedish club Malmo, and German defender Tim Hoogland.

Interim head coach Grant Brebner, who took over from departed Spanish mentor Carlos Salvachua, intends to give youth a chance in the Victory’s five remaining regular-season games.

“In that first game (against Western United) we will definitely have some players making their debut and moving forward, we will have players being thrown into the deep end,” Brebner told the Victory website.

“Young players can bring the hunger that we need. They are not just here to play that position, they are here to stake a claim for that position.

“I now have an opportunity to play players and they can step out of the shadows. There is no pressure on us, so we can go about our business and play with freedom.”

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