Tim Cahill of Melbourne City (right) competes for the ball with Jake McLean of the Brisbane Strikers during their round of 16 FFA Cup match at Perry Park in Brisbane in August.
Tim Cahill of Melbourne City (right) competes for the ball with Jake McLean of the Brisbane Strikers during their round of 16 FFA Cup match at Perry Park in Brisbane in August. DAN PELED

Cahill in line for Melbourne City debut

FOOTBALL: Melbourne City coach John van't Schip is poised to unleash star signing Tim Cahill as a starter in tomorrow night's Melbourne A-League derby against the Victory.

The 36-year-old only returned to City training yesterday after 12 days in camp with the Socceroos. He had two brief stints as a substitute for Australia against Saudi Arabia and Japan.

His only start since leaving Chinese outfit Huangzhou Greentown was a 62-minute showing in the FFA Cup quarter-final win over the Western Sydney Wanderers late last month at AAMI Park.

"Tim is physically in good condition, the only thing we have to look at is managing him and see how far he can come,” van't Schip told reporters. "That could be 90 minutes, that could be 60 minutes, we just have to see.

"That's in general how we have to work with a lot of players, especially Tim. He's had an interrupted pre-season coming from China, (and) he went back to the (United) States.

"Then he travelled with Socceroos, so didn't get a lot of training hours and game time as he would have if he stayed here, but that's part of being involved in the Socceroos and it's good for us and good for Tim.

"We're not worried about that. He's going to have an impact for sure.

"I don't see the difference between starting or coming in, it's more about good understanding of where he is during the game. He's a professional so he knows his body.”

Victory coach Kevin Muscat has welcomed his former Socceroos teammate to the competition, but was adamant he would be the "enemy” in the blockbuster at Etihad Stadium.

"Tim's been great for our code and our country, but right here and now, he's the enemy,” he told media.

"We'll get the game out of the way. He's certainly in good enough condition at the moment so he's going to be a threat, no doubt. We've analysed that throughout the week.

"We've got some serious threats going forward as well and that was evident last week, that when teams turn the ball over or when we're in comfortable possession, we're going to want to threaten and it'll be no different tomorrow.

"That's why I think it'll be a much more open game than what we saw last week.”

The Victory was held to a draw in Brisbane in its season opener, while City recorded a 1-0 win in Wellington.

While Muscat won't have James Troisi at his disposal due to a broken collarbone, winger Marco Rojas has returned from international duty with the New Zealand All Whites in the US, where he played the host nation and Mexico.

Victory fans are keen to see the 24-year-old back in action after success in the navy blue in the 2012-13 season when he won the Johnny Warren Medal.

"These days international travel is a little bit different. He'll be tucked away in the front end of the plane, but he'd be able to get a good kip in the carry-on luggage compartment, let alone in business class,” Muscat said.

"He'll be in this morning and we'll assess him. But we've already received medical reports from the New Zealand FA and he's fine. He came off in both games so he'll be fresh.

"Whether he starts or not, we'll assess that over the next 24 hours.”

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