Honda set for rare start

22 February 2019 07:37:49 EST

Melbourne Victory are expected to have Japanese star Keisuke Honda back in their starting side for Saturday's derby against City.

The 32-year-old hasn't started a match in 11 rounds due to a hamstring injury. But he came through his substitute's appearance last weekend against Wellington Phoenix, when he netted a second-half goal that secured a 1-1 draw at Eden Park.

Keeper Lawrence Thomas expects to see Honda in from the start at Marvel Stadium, as Victory chase a win to stay in touch with leaders Perth Glory.

"He should be back. It's a massive boost for us having Mr Honda there," said Thomas.

The Victory shot-stopper sees City as a 'dangerous' side - they went down 2-1 to Kevin Muscat's team in the opening round and the teams drew 1-1 in their most recent meeting in December.

City have fallen away in the chase for the Premiers' Plate, having picked up just one point from their last four games.

"They're sitting where we were at a similar point last year and we ended up coming good at the end," added Thomas. "For us we need to win to keep a chance of catching Perth ... we need to turn up and I believe we will."

Victory expect to have Ola Toivonen on the bench after three weeks out due to a training knock.

City, having won only one of their past seven games, are relishing the chance to return to form in the derby.

Keeper Eugene Galekovic said: "Everyone likes playing in the big games - the intensity lifts, the crowds are big and get into it. But we need to sustain that mindset all the time."

Melbourne City are 9/4 to beat Melbourne Victory, who are 6/5 to come out on top, with the draw 12/5.

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