Heart Eagerly Anticipating Bendigo Westpac Festival

Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van ‘t Schip believes the Club’s friendly clash with the Loddon Mallee Lightning will play an important role in continuing his side’s development ahead of round one of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.

Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van ‘t Schip believes the Club-s friendly clash with the Loddon Mallee Lightning will play an important role in continuing his side-s development ahead of round one of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.

Following the arrival of Michael Beauchamp and Josip Skoko, van ‘t Schip now has nearly a full squad at his disposal, ensuring the former Ajax man is able to ramp up preparations for the Club-s debut campaign.

And with only one game remaining until Heart makes its national bow on August 5, the Club-s clash with the Loddon Mallee Lightning is set to take on added importance.

"We are also not yet at the end of our pre-season, so we have still some weeks to go, if you see what we have done until now, we are getting closer and closer to the point that we need to be on August 5 against Central Coast," van ‘t Schip said.

"Still then, the process will go on. A lot of players are coming back from injuries, playing for the first time, Josip, Alex Terra, Michael Beauchamp just arrived, some players having some injuries coming back."

Van ‘t Schip has been heartened by the Club-s continued progress, which saw Heart produce a sterling display against a strong Everton side featuring the likes of Tim Cahill, Phil Neville, Louis Saha and Jack Rodwell.

In particular, van ‘t Schip said the development of Heart-s brigade of teenage starlets has been a pleasing element of the Club-s pre-season.

"It-s good to see that the difference between the older and the younger players is closing. That will make you strong as a squad and I'm happy with their performance," he said.

Bendigo will be the final stop of the 2010 Westpac Community Football Festival, which has seen Melbourne Heart FC travel to Geelong and Gippsland, staging friendly matches and clinics for nearly 1,000 local club players and school children.

The festival though will restart again in 2011, with another three locations set to play host to Melbourne-s newest football club.