Heart to integrate Senior and Youth rosters

Melbourne Heart FC is set to take a fresh approach to youth development during the upcoming season, with the Club integrating its National Youth League and Hyundai A-League rosters.

Melbourne Heart FC is set to take a fresh approach to youth development during the upcoming season, with the Club integrating its National Youth League and Hyundai A-League rosters.

Following the example of Dutch powerhouse AZ Alkmaar, Heart-s youth team training will be held concurrently with the senior squad, exposing the Club-s generation to higher intensity sessions and standard of play.

The new policy will also offer youth team players a greater opportunity to learn from Heart-s coaching staff, facilitating increased face time.

General Manager, Football Operations John Didulica said: “We made a decision to integrate our seniors and youth team so all the players have access to all the coaches.

“A centralised approach to training will add a unique dynamic and result in a more vibrant environment.

“Fundamentally though, it-s about accelerating the development of our youth team players by training amongst more experienced player, and hopefully fast tracking their growth.”

Heart will kick start its National Youth League campaign in the coming months, staging a series of trials to identify the nucleus of its squad following an impressive debut campaign.

Finishing the season in fifth place, the undoubted highlight of Heart-s maiden NYL campaign was the team-s performance in the Hawaiian Islands Invitational during February.

Facing K-League giants Busan I-Park and 2010 MLS Champions Colorado Rapids, the team bowed out in the semi-final stage on penalties following a hard fought 0-0 draw before falling to a 0-1 defeat at the hands of the US outfit despite the Denver side fielding a full strength squad.

While Heart-s 2011/12 youth squad have since returned to their respective state league outfits, a core of players have featured in senior training recently, including Josh Groenewald, Jeremy Walker and Phil Petreski.