Victory to call up Djulbic to plug defensive hole

Star defender Rhys Williams is suspended for Melbourne Victory's clash with Central Coast in Geelong early in January, and Thomas Deng, the young centre-back who has filled in alongside Williams all season, will be absent on Australian under-23 international duty for several weeks.

So Victory boss Kevin Muscat is planning to solve his short-term defensive headaches by signing the giant former Gold Coast United and Perth Glory centre-half Dino Djulbic as a stop-gap injury replacement player.

The 34-year-old Djulbic, who won two caps for the Socceroos in 2012, would take the spot on the list currently vacated by James Donachie, Muscat's original choice to partner Williams at the heart of the Victory defence.

However Donachie suffered an injury in the second-round clash with Melbourne City and has missed almost the whole season as a result of problems with a quad, a situation which gave the youngster Deng his big chance.

But now that Deng has been called up for a controversial under-23 tournament - the A-League clubs on Friday lost a legal challenge to prevent the FFA from insisting on the players being released for a competition that falls outside the FIFA window - Djulbic will get the opportunity to return to the A-League having most recently played in Malaysia.

Muscat grinned at Friday night's post-match press conference when asked about the big stopper's likely recruitment.

"I have been speaking to him for quite a few weeks now. He will start training with us, we will look to try to conclude a deal to bring him in as an injury replacement," Muscat said.

When Donachie returns Djulbic could stay with the club but not play in the A-League, instead being used as one of the defensive options for Victory's Asian Champions League campaign.

Muscat became the second A-League coach to receive a yellow card - the first was Glory's Ken Lowe - and he admitted that he was "disappointed" to have been handed the sanction.

This story Victory to call up Djulbic to plug defensive hole first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.