Just a week on from his heroic performance against J1 League side Kashima Antlers, reports emerged mid-week that goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas had been targeted by Kashima’s Japanese rivals Sagen Tosu.

The Herald Sun’s David Davutovic revealed the Japanese club was considering swooping for the 27-year-old, who is out of contract at season’s end, before the Japanese transfer window closes on April 24.

“I don’t know if it’s on the paper or if it’s in the newspaper, the offer, I have no more information,” Salvachúa said when the rumours were put to him on Thursday.

With the Australian window shutting at the end of January, Victory would need to find an unemployed free agent to sign as a replacement for Thomas if he leaves the club – or rely instead on backups Brendan White and youth goalkeeper Mathew Sutton.

However Mathew Acton, who started a number of games for Victory during the 2018/19 season but has since been injured, is also set to restart training imminently.

 “Matt Acton will be ready next week to train with the team," said Salvachúa. "He’s finishing his preparation and he will be ready for the next week.

“But course we want to keep Lawrence."

Thomas is one of 17 Victory players with contracts ending this season, with notable names such as Ola Toivonen, Andrew Nabbout, Elvis Kamsoba and Tim Hoogland also among those expiring.

The speculation and contract wrangling comes at a difficult time for the interim-Victory boss who is still searching for his first A-League win, despite much-improved performances from the four-time  champions since he took over.

Losing 1-0 to Adelaide United in his first game in charge and going down 3-0 to Sydney FC in the traditional Australia Day Big Blue, a battling performance from his side was enough to secure an important 2-2 draw in the west against Perth Glory last week.

But Victory have also notched up two crucial wins in Asia – including their first-ever away triumph – under his charge against Bali United and Kashima.

“We need results, we need results now,” the Victory boss said. “We need to go March with just four games and full training weeks, and we need results as soon as possible.

“It’s not the best to say that if I win the first A-League game I can relax. We need wins, we need wins as soon as possible.”

Held back from the Glory draw as a precautionary measure, both Robbie Kruse and Tim Hoogland are expected to come into contention for selection against City on Friday night.

The addition of Hoogland looms large both because of his exemplary performance against City in the Christmas Derby, but also given the absence of Mr-Fix-It Leigh Broxham - who is set for a possible two-week absence with a calf injury.

“[Hoogland and Kruse] trained today without problems and will be available for tomorrow," Salvachúa said.

“[Hoogland] is one option, we’ll see. We have 19 players to decide, who is the best first XI for tomorrow. So we’ll see tomorrow.

“[Kruse] trained yesterday and today with us and now I have 24 hours more to decide.”

Attacker Marco Rojas, who made his official Victory return off the bench against Perth, will also come into contention for further minutes against City but, with as Asian Champions League game waiting for mid-week, Salvachúa cautioned that his game time would still need to be managed.

“Now every day he’s getting better because now he’s trained one week with the team,” added Salvachúa.

“He played the last week, a few minutes. We’ll see, because we have another tough game on Tuesday, and we’ll see who the best person to use. Some players, they cannot play 90 minutes in both games.

“So, we’ll see the best option.”