Heart Anticipating Tough Encounter With Phoenix

Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van ‘t Schip believes it is crucial his side remains vigilant as it prepares to face the Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park on Sunday.

Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van ‘t Schip believes it is crucial his side remains vigilant as it prepares to face the Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park on Sunday.

After falling to the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford, Heart is poised to bounce back, with imports Rutger Worm and Alex Terra in contention to feature.

The Phoenix match-up is also likely to mark the return of Josip Skoko, who has faced a one-month stint on the sidelines after succumbing to injury during the second week of the season.

Van ‘t Schip said the return of the attack-minded Alex Terra and Worm, as well as Skoko, is a boon for the side as it seeks to record its second straight win at AAMI Park.

“It is important now we get a lot of players back. Josip Skoko is looking good and hopefully Alex Terra and Rutger Worm are going to be available for the game, so we have got more choice,” he said.

After making two appearances off the bench, van ‘t Schip is also confident Socceroo legend John Aloisi will be able to take on an increased role against the Kiwi outfit.

“John Aloisi is coming back slowly too. He has twice come onto the pitch as a substitute and every week he is looking stronger and sharper. So I think he is going to complete the squad as well as an experienced player,” he said.

Holding Victory to a scoreless draw on Wednesday night, Wellington is facing its third match in a week when it takes on Heart.

But van ‘t Schip is circumspect on whether the increased workload will play into Heart-s hands, revealing he enjoyed the challenge of mid-week fixtures during his playing career.

“I remember that when I was playing I loved to play national league and then European league and then national league, so you played a lot and you as a team you started gelling very quick and knowing from each other what to do,” he said.

“In a certain period of the season I think it's very good (playing three games in a week) because having a good pre-season at the beginning of the season, getting some games and then starting playing two times a week I never had problems with that.”

With Phoenix marquee man Paul Ifill in ominous form, van ‘t Schip said Heart-s ability contain the attacking talents of Ifill and New Zealand World Cup player Leo Bertos are likely to play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the match.

"I think they're a very well-organised team," he said. "They have two outstanding wingers with Ifill and Bertos, they have a very hard-working and also technical forward in Chris Greenacre,” he said.

“They are a strong team and they have players with World Cup experience also, so it-s going to be a big challenge on Sunday.”