Melbourne Victory coach Marco Kurz has refused to put a timeline on star signing Robbie Kruse's recovery from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the A-League season opener.
Victory scrapped to a 0-0 draw in their derby clash with City without their Socceroos attacker, and he will be missing again on Friday night for the clash with Western Sydney at Marvel Stadium.
A fit and firing Kruse is a key component of Kurz's A-League title plans, but the German is unsure when one of his stars will throw off the hamstring injury that slowed him for much of the pre-season.
"It's not fair to set up a timeline (for Robbie) because maybe he comes back early and we are happy, but injuries need time and you don't know what will happen the next day," Kurz told reporters on Thursday.
"At the moment he's not available. We are on the way to set him up to make him strong enough to be sure he can be a competitive player for us.
"When he's back and available for the team sessions I can let you know but before it's only speculation.
"Hopefully we can get him back soon. I will be happy, but on the other side we must be careful because we need him for long term not the short term."
The timeline for fellow signing Tim Hoogland's return from a quad strain is slightly clearer.
The German centre-back will miss up to six weeks with the injury he suffered with the last kick of pre-season training, but Kurz is hopeful he could miss as few as three before joining in training for a week or two.
The absence of the pair won't help Kurz as he looks to build greater chemistry in his line-up starting with the clash against the Wanderers, who kicked off their campaign with a 2-1 win over Central Coast.
"It's not a secret that the signings came step by step and that means every player is not at the same fitness level or the same tactical level," Kurz explained.
"It means sometimes there is more of a restart to explain again and I think that's normal because we made strong (player) cuts after last season.
"But I'm 100 per cent confident that we are on the right track.
"I wasn't disappointed with the (opening) game, we had a really good first half.
"I think the improvement (at training) this week was OK but it's now our job to bring it to the pitch on Friday."
Australian Associated Press