Heart Ready For Defining Week

Melbourne Heart FC head coach John van ‘t Schip believes his side is approaching a potentially character defining period ahead of a challenging three-game home swing starting Sunday.

Melbourne Heart FC head coach John van ‘t Schip believes his side is approaching a potentially character defining period ahead of a challenging three-game home swing starting Sunday.

Across the span of six days, Heart will face finals contending Perth Glory, league leaders, Central Coast Mariners and reigning premier Brisbane Roar as the side seeks to cement its status among the competition-s elite.

While van ‘t Schip and his side undoubtedly relish the challenge which lies ahead, an uncharacteristic loss to Adelaide United and away draw to Gold Coast United has placed Heart within touching distance of the chasing pack at a time when the Red and White appeared poised to challenge for top spot.

“The last two games, we haven-t played the way we wanted or got the points we had in mind,” van ‘t Schip said.

“That-s something we are obviously a little disappointed about, but also know the hard time is going to come now, with some injuries and a tough program ahead, we have to show character now.”

Character will also be necessary to overcome the loss of midfield dynamo and captain Fred, who is poised to be sidelined for at least four weeks with a groin strain.

The Brazilian was substituted midway through Heart-s draw on the glitter strip after aggravating his troublesome groin, forcing van ‘t Schip to call upon his midfield reinforcements for the weekend.

Fred-s absence has been tempered somewhat by the return of Argentine Jonatan Germano, who has overcome a hamstring strain to be in contention for selection against Perth.

“For sure, (Fred will be sorely missed),” van ‘t Schip said. “He-s our captain and an experienced player in a young team, bring a lot of positive energy into the line-up every game, but it-s also an opportunity for other players to step up to the line-up themselves.”