The Melbourne City squad celebrates after beating Sydney FC earlier this season. (Photo: Melbourne City/Twitter)

The countdown to the preliminary final between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory has begun with each side being forced to make changes to their team due to suspension and injuries.

The countdown to the preliminary final between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory has begun with each side being forced to make changes to their team due to suspension and injuries.

This week Melbourne City will be without their first-choice goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri and Serbian international Tyla-Jay-Vlajnic, both who provide a wealth of experience to the team.

Due to both of their suspensions from last week’s game against Sydney it has provided a golden opportunity for other squad members to stand up and deliver.

“We won’t try and do any experiments. We’ve been working a long time with our structures and our principals. We haven’t got time to change anything and the last time we played against Melbourne Victory we were quite successful,” Vidosic said.

“We will bring Chelsea (Blissett) left footer for left footer and glove for glove (Sally James).”

While Blissett is a good inclusion to the starting eleven it will be hard for James to fill the shoes of first choice goalkeeper Barbieri.

James, who has yet to start a game this year will be looking to prove herself and take the reigns of being Melbourne City’s primary goalkeeper once Barbieri retires.

“She won’t have any problem, she’s excellent. She’s just been injured so that’s why she’s been playing less game time, but Melissa is going to help her as much as she can,” the City coach said.

Both teams have previously played against each other this season with Melbourne Victory winning the first game 2-1 and Melbourne City getting up 5-1 more recently.

Melbourne Victory is led by Australia international players Casey Dumont, Courtney Nevin and Kyra Cooney-Cross and American imports Catherine Zimmerman and Brooke Hendrix, while Melbourne City is led by their captain Emma Checker and New Zealanders Hannah Wilkinson, Marisa van der Meer and Rebekah Stott.

“Their (Melbourne Victory) current group of players have more experience but saying that we’ve got some experience in our dressing room and one thing that we obviously had was a good lead up to the finals,” Vidosic stated.

“We had some good performances. We are full of confidence and we’re going to show that on Sunday.”

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With both teams consisting of a range of national team and international players, experience will play a large part in the match as the pressure of a do-or-die final may get the best of some of the younger and more inexperienced players.

As one of the more experienced players for the Melbourne City team with over 100 appearances for the New Zealand national team, Hannah Wilkinson knows what it is like playing in a big game where there is a mountain of pressure.

She has competed in three consecutive World Cups and Olympic Games and will be one of the main factors if Melbourne City can come away with the win.

Melbourne City’s Holly McNamara (L) and Hannah Wilkinson (R) celebrate. (Image: Melbourne City/Instagram)

“It’s been awesome to be a leader and I can offer all the kind of feedback to the younger players coming through and they’re also showing a lot of development,” she said.

“While I’ve been here it has been an absolute pleasure playing alongside some incredibly talented and intelligent players. I’ve done my best to be a healthy and good influence on them and instill some confidence in them.

“(We) want it more than them and just playing the kind of football that we know wins games and score us some goals because we’re very capable of playing some really nice football and it’s just so beautiful to play.

“We have got the group to do it, we’re confident and we’re hungry for that grand final and the trophy at the end of the season.”

With Wilkinson in good form and scoring five goals against Victory in their last outing she will be hoping for a repeat performance.

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