The Victory relinquished top spot the last time they stepped out, losing away to North Queensland Fury, but 14 days between matches has given them time to get some key players back on the park and puts them in a strong position to take on the Newcastle Jets this Sunday.
"The break has been beneficial to us," Merrick said.
"Even though we lost the last game (1-0 at North Queensland) and were unhappy with the performance, it's given a few boys the chance to recover from injury.
"It gives us three new players for the next game.
"(Hernandez's) ankle is pretty well recovered and his fitness is good as well. He's probably stronger than he's ever been and Carlos is probably 90 per cent."