Victory signs star in time for Big Blue

Johnny Warren medallist Marco Rojas could make a sensational Melbourne Victory appearance in Friday’s mega clash against Sydney FC, after a visa spot was released.

Victory finally agreed a mutual termination with Austrian attacker Kristijan Dobras, enabling Rojas to be officially signed.

Rojas is understood to have agreed to a two-and-a-half year deal just over a week ago.

However, he could not officially sign the deal until Dobras was released.

The Kiwi winger will join the Victory squad on Thursday for his first session. He has stayed fit by training on his own for the past week.

Rojas, 28, played as recently as December 15, with his Danish club SonderjyskE understood to have offered him a contract extension. His preference was to return “home”.

He rejected an offer from Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix to sign for Victory, where he spent three seasons, scoring 28 goals in 75 games in all competitions.

He has scored five times in 40 New Zealand internationals.

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Marco Rojas is back at Melbourne Victory.Source:Getty Images

Dobras, 27, departs after scoring two goals in nine games, the most recent in the 3-2 loss to Central Coast – Marco Kurz’s last game.

Rojas’ return is welcome news for Victory fans and interim coach Carlos Salvachua.

ROUND 16 PREVIEW

VICTORY v SYDNEY FC

Friday, AAMI Park, 7.30pm

TAB Odds: Victory $3, Draw $3.80, Sky Blues $2.15

Skipper Ola Toivonen will headline the changes for Melbourne Victory’s mega clash with Sydney FC on Friday after receiving an Asian confidence injection midweek.

Toivonen scored a world-class volley in the 5-0 Asian Champions League romp of Bali United, his first appearance since the pre-Christmas Melbourne derby win.

Defenders Tim Hoogland (injury) and Tommy DEng (Olyroos) are nearing a return, but Victory will enter the Sky Blues clash with renewed confidence after clicking ahead at the start of a busy schedule.

Victory struggled to adapt to interim coach Carlos Salvachua’s game plan, which was modelled on last season’s formation, but looked a different side in the second half of last week’s loss at Adelaide United.

“For sure (we can turn the season around). The boys looked good (against Bali), we have a good feeling in the group,” Toivonen told Fox Sports.

DAVUTOVIC’S VERDICT: 2-2 draw

MELBOURNE CITY v PERTH GLORY

Saturday, AAMI Park, 7.30pm

TAB Odds: City $2.40, Draw $3.40, Glory $2.90

Ex-Celtic defender Jack Hendry could make his Melbourne City debut in Saturday’s battle for second against Perth Glory.

Scotland-capped Hendry replaces Austrian defender Richard Windbichler on an injury-replacement loan deal.

Hendry, 24, arrived in Melbourne today and is in good condition, although City coach Erick Mombaerts is likely to ease him into it with Curtis Good and Harrison Delbridge forming a strong defensive partnership this season.

Windbichler, 28, tore his hamstring again and is expected to miss at least six weeks with City set to err on the side of caution, as he’s injured it multiple times.

Defender Jack Hendry has signed for Melbourne City, on loan from Celtic.Source:Supplied

Hendry has made 27 appearances for Celtic, mostly under former boss Brendan Rodgers, including six Champions League qualifiers.

But he has dropped down the pecking order since the return of Neil Lennon, playing just once this season – 11 minutes of Celtic’s 5-0 Scottish League Cup quarterfinal win against his former side Partick Thistle.

DAVUTOVIC’S VERDICT: 1-1 draw

WESTERN UNITED v ADELAIDE UNITED

Sunday, Whitten Oval, 6pm

TAB Odds: United $2.60, Draw $3.50, Adelaide $2.50

Western United captain Alessandro Diamanti faces a fitness test ahead of his team’s Whitten Oval debut on Sunday in a decisive finals clash.

United’s mini mid-season squad overhaul continues, with experienced defender Ersan Gulum returning to Turkey.

Gulum, who became a household name in Turkey by becoming a regular for Istanbul giants Besiktas, joins Turkish club Antalyaspor in a player-coach capacity.

More signings will follow after mid-season recruit from Gold Coast Knights, defender Oskar Dillon debuted last week.

MORE FOOTBALL NEWS:

Diamanti limped off in the first half of United’s 3-0 romp of Central Coast last week but his potential absence will give another opportunity to fellow left-footed attacker Max Burgess to shine after a stellar display in a rare start.

United chief executive Chris Pehlivanis was hopeful of a strong crowd at the 12,000-capacity Whitten Oval, and revealed that more games could be shifted closer to Melbourne’s west from Geelong or Ballarat.

DAVUTOVIC’S VERDICT: Western United 2 Adelaide United 1

OTHER GAMES

WELLINGTON PHOENIX v NEWCASTLE JETS
Friday, Westpac Stadium, 5.15pm

TAB Odds: Phoenix $1.70, Draw $4.20, Jets $4.20

CENTRAL COAST v BRISBANE ROAR

Saturday, Central Coast Stadium, 5pm

TAB Odds: Mariners $2.80, Draw $3.40, Roar $2.40

A-LEAGUE LADDER

1. Sydney FC 11W 1L 1D +17 34 pts

2. Melbourne City 8W 2L 4D +7 26 pts

3. Perth Glory 7W 3L 3D +13 21 pts

4. Wellington Phoenix 6W 3L 5D +3 21 pts

5. Western United 6W 2L 6D +2 20 pts

6. Adelaide United 6W 0L 7D -1 18 pts

———————————-

7. Brisbane Roar 4W 4L 5D -4 16 pts

8. Melbourne Victory 4W 3L 7D -2 15 pts

9. Western Sydney 4W 2L 8D -7 14 pts

10. Central Coast 4W 1L 8D -11 13 pts

11. Newcastle Jets 2W 3L 8D -17 9 pts

W-LEAGUE ROUND 11

MELBOURNE VICTORY v CANBERRA UNITED
Sunday, Lakeside Stadium, 4pm

Originally published asVictory signs star in time for Big Blue

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