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Melbourne Victory names Asian Champions League squad

Melbourne Victory has named a 25-man squad for its upcoming AFC Champions League 2010 campaign, promoting six players from its National Youth League side and including injured midfielder Billy Celeski.

Aziz Behich and Luke Pilkington, who both recently made their Hyundai A-League debuts, have been elevated alongside fellow Melbourne Victory Youth players Diogo Ferreira, Petar Franjic, Stephen Hatzikostas and goalkeeper Sebastian Mattei, while Celeski could return to action if Melbourne Victory progresses to the Round of 16.

Celeski has made significant progress and begun running again after landing awkwardly and tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during Melbourne Victory's Round 5 match against Newcastle Jets in September last year.

Scotsman Grant Brebner and Costa Ricans Carlos Hernandez and Marvin Angulo form Melbourne Victory's allowed quota of three foreign players, with Thai Surat Sukha the club's additional import from within Asia.

Franjic is the youngest of the squad at 17, while Kevin Muscat will lead the club in its second ACL appearance at 36.

Melbourne Victory Football Operations Manager Gary Cole said the club is looking forward to competing in Asia's premier club competition, which kicks off against Beijing Guoan in the Chinese capital on February 23.

"2010 is going to be a memorable year for Melbourne Victory as we look forward to the business end of the Hyundai A-League season, the ACL and the opening of the new Melbourne Rectangular Stadium," Cole said.

"Most clubs competing in the ACL have had to trim their squads to fit within the AFC maximum of 30 players, but we're in a position where we've been able to promote some of our best performing National Youth League players, who have all earned their spots."

Melbourne Victory will face Beijing, Korea Republic's Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma and Japanese powerhouse Kawasaki Frontale in Group E of the ACL 2010.

Following its opener against Beijing, Melbourne Victory will host Seongnam at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, March 9, before consecutive matches against Kawasaki on March 23 at Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium and Wednesday, March 31 at Etihad.

Melbourne Victory will welcome Beijing to Etihad on Wednesday, April 14, followed by a potentially decisive trip to Korea Republic for its final Group Stage match against Seongnam at Tancheon Sports Complex on April 28.

Should Melbourne Victory progress to the Round of 16, the one-off elimination match will be played on Wednesday, May 12.

Melbourne Victory AFC Champions League 2010 squad: 1.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5.Surat SUKHA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 22.Nick WARD, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 24.Luke PILKINGTON, 25.Aziz BEHICH, 26.Marvin ANGULO, 27.Stephen HATZIKOSTAS, 28.Diogo FERREIRA, 29.Petar FRANJIC, 30.Sebastian MATTEI (gk)

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