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Alex Mitchell

Canberra, Victory battle in high stakes ALW fixture

Victory's Jeff Hopkins does not have to explain the importance of the Canberra match to his players. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Canberra United will look to save their A-League Women's season on Saturday afternoon, but in-form Melbourne Victory will certainly have something to say about that.

Victory head into the round-18 encounter fourth on the table and five points clear of fifth-ranked Canberra. Theoretically, they can punch their tickets to the finals with a win in the nation's capital.

United are still waiting to hear back from their appeal to a three-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player against Sydney, a decision that severely compromised their chances of making the top four.

But Victory, who've lost just once in 13 games and are coming off a statement derby win against Melbourne City, could make that appeal somewhat redundant if they win what is now one of the biggest games of the ALW season.

Coach Jeff Hopkins said he didn't feel the need to stress the importance of the occasion to his troops, fully expecting them to be ready for the tough challenge.

"I don't think I've needed to mention it, although the players are talking about it, they understand," he said.

"If I was to come out and tell them how important the game is tomorrow, I think they might roll their eyes and say 'yeah, where do you think we've been the last 10 days.

"Huge game for us, huge game for them as well. We're most probably feeling nervous ... but it's a two-way thing and a two-way street, I'm sure they're in exactly the same position as we are."

But while a fiery clash is expected there's plenty of respect between the sides, Hopkins praising Canberra's recent hot form and their exciting, direct attacking football.

"It's going to be a game where we have to push ourselves pretty hard physically and emotionally as well," he said.

"We're going to ask a lot of our team defensively, but also we're not going there to defend, we're going there to do what we normally do and that's to try and win the game."

Both sides will have their Young Matildas back in their line-ups, Jessika Nash in the Victory side after captaining the national team while Canberra get vital duo Sasha Grove and Chloe Lincoln.

United coach Njegosh Popovich remained confident his team could run down the top four and play finals.

"Melbourne Victory are a good side, they got a good result last week against City which sets up a great show for us," he said.

"We're getting more and more players back from injury and international duty ... we're looking forward to the challenge."

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