Former Rangers attacker Francesco Stella will make his starting debut for Melbourne Victory against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Stella, who joined Victory from the fallen Scottish giants last month, scored three goals off the bench in the club’s National Youth League win over Central Coast Mariners at the weekend.
With Mark Milligan away on international duty and Nick Ansell injured, Stella will be promoted alongside Jonathan Bru in a reshuffled side on Friday.
“Francesco’s been training well, so we want to give him an opportunity just to have a look at him,” coach Ange Postecoglou said.
“We still think there’s heaps of improvement in him.
“He’s only just getting to know how we play, but he’s been pretty bright at training.
“He’s done well in the youth team when he’s played, so he gets an opportunity.”
Stella and Bru will join Billy Celeski in midfield, while Leigh Broxham will drop back to replace Ansell in central defence.
Postecoglou said Scott Galloway would keep his place in defence after the teenager impressed in last week’s 2-1 win over Melbourne Heart.
“It will be a challenge for him now to see how he backs up,” he said.
“We think he’s a good player and if we can get some games into him then we think he’ll improve.”
Victory are second on the ladder, three points behind leaders Central Coast, while United have slumped to fourth place.
The Reds, who were rocked by the surprise resignation of coach John Kosmina last month, defeated Victory 4-2 last time the sides met in December.
“When you have a change of coach there’s a little bit of instability there,” Postecoglou said.
“It’s never great, but once that whistle goes and the game starts, they’ve got some quality players there.
“They haven’t been where they’ve been all year without them being a good football side.
“You don’t go over there expecting the worst, you go over their expecting the best and their best is pretty good.”
Meanwhile, Postecoglou said he had no issue with Milligan travelling to Spain for Australia’s friendly with Romania on Wednesday.
Milligan was introduced as a substitute with less than 10 minutes to go as the Socceroos were beaten 3-2 by Romania.
“When your country calls, you answer that call,” Postecoglou said.
“That’s how I’ve been brought up. He answered the call and so did we.”
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