ALREADY depleted Melbourne Victory have suffered another injury blow with captain Mark Milligan set to miss Friday night's clash against the Newcastle Jets.
Victory can ill-afford to lose Milligan given they are already missing Adrian Leijer (suspension) and Pablo Contreras (groin) while Jason Geria, Scott Galloway, Nick Ansell and Connor Pain are all on national duty at the AFC U22 Championship.
While Muscat described the timing of Milligan's setback as 'not ideal', the Victory coach looked at it as a positive and said it was now a chance for the likes of youth players Dylan Murnane and Milos Ridesic to make their mark.
"Millsy has been struggling with his knee for a little bit now," Muscat said. "He didn't look comfortable, did he? But it's just an opportunity for someone else.
"We've got a couple of young boys that are ready to come in and play. Dylan's done really well and Milos has done really well as well.
"We're probably down to the bare bones in terms of numbers in the squad but it's not an excuse."
In more positive news for Victory, they will be boosted by the return of veteran striker Archie Thompson who has sat out the last five matches due to hamstring injuries.
"Archie's fine, Archie will travel," Muscat said. "We're obviously going to have to take a little bit of a precaution with him as well ... but he's certainly trained really well this week so he'll certainly be involved in the game."
Muscat had no reason to believe that the high amount of changes to the Victory line-up would affect the team's cohesion either.
"If we start putting preconceived ideas in players' minds that it's going to be difficult then it will be," Muscat said.
"It's about being positive, if Dylan does come in and play it's an opportunity he's been waiting for. He's a professional sportsman so it'll be an opportunity for him to go and play well.
"He certainly knows the structures inside out so I've got all the confidence in him."