Melbourne Victory will start their A-League campaign without Robbie Kruse, with the Socceroos winger ruled out of their derby with Melbourne City.
Melbourne Victory and Socceroos winger Robbie Kruse will miss the opening round of the A-League season.
Kruse has battled a hamstring injury throughout the pre-season, with Victory electing not to risk the 31-year-old in Saturday's Melbourne City derby.
"Robbie has been working tirelessly to overcome a hamstring issue and get his body ready, however at this stage we still have some work to do with him," Victory general manager of football Paul Trimboli said in a statement.
"As well as recovering from the injury, Robbie needs time to improve his fitness and ensure he is 100 per cent ready for the intensity that is demanded in the A-League.
"Given the nature of his injury and the length of the season, we won't be taking any risks and will treat his comeback cautiously."
Kruse, who has returned to the A-League after a long stint in Germany, said he had taken a break before joining Victory but had picked up some hamstring issues in pre-season.
The winger said he would look to build his fitness and focus on returning in coming weeks.
"So unfortunately I've just picked up a few little hammy problems since I've signed at Victory about 10 weeks ago," Kruse told AAP at Tuesday's A-League season launch.
"So unfortunately I'll miss the first game and it's just about getting my fitness back up and then hopefully I can start looking and planning for the next few games."
Kruse said being ruled out five days ahead of the season opener was important to allow the team to focus on the game and prepare without him.
"I think it's just better - the team can just concentrate on the game because I obviously haven't played a few of the pre-season games, so there's been a few question marks going around why I'm not involved," he said.
"So I think it's just better to clear the air and let everyone now focus on the derby and the team can now be settled knowing I'm not there and they can concentrate on the game."