By Paddy Higgs
Melbourne Heart are not actively seeking defensive reinforcements despite the departures of Curtis Good and Brendan Hamill, although the A-League club hopes to sign at least two more players ahead of the 2012-13 A-League season.
Good's exit to English Premier League club Newcastle United was confirmed on Tuesday, with questions raised over the club's ability to cover the loss of both he and fellow Australia Under-23 representative Hamill [Seongnam Ilhwa].
Heart have been bolstered by the arrival of highly rated Young Socceroo stopper David Vrankovic from New South Wales Premier League club Bonnyrigg White Eagles, while Patrick Gerhardt - signed initially as a defensive midfielder - operates as a central defender when on national duty with Liberia.
Add veteran Simon Colosimo and Irishman Steven Gray, and Heart are content with their defensive options leading into the new campaign.
Instead, it is a new midfielder coach John Aloisi is targeting, as well as a player capable of filling several roles for the squad.
"Between those four, I think we've got coverage in that area," Heart football operations manager John Didulica told Goal.com, adding that Matt Thompson could be deployed in defence "in case of emergency".
"We've got four there already, and four really good players who we think we can throw in without question.
"For us, it's to try and find another midfielder to bring in and then also we'll try and find another utility at the younger end."
Didulica said the club would not fill their 23-man squad unless needed, in a hope to avoid a repeat of losing promising players like National Youth League graduate Craig Goodwin - now with the Newcastle Jets - after being unable to offer senior contracts until season's end: "We want to fill two more spots, and then probably leave a couple of spots open to bring in a couple of younger players," he said.
"As the season grows, we'll try to add some of the best-talented players [from the NYL team]."
Didulica confirmed former Portsmouth and Troyes midfielder Andreas Govas and ex-Dinamo Zagreb central defender Josip Konyit had departed the club after their trial periods finished and would not be offered contracts.
Defensive utility Sam Mitchinson [formerly of Perth Glory] continues to train with the club, and Jacob Poscoliero - most recently with Italian Serie D outfit Sandona - resumes his trial after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Heart have their next pre-season friendly on Wednesday against Victorian Premier League outfit Melbourne Knights, with the likes of 2011-12 National Youth League contracted players Josh Groenwald, Zac Walker, Jeremy Walker and Stipo Andrijasevic to continue with the first-team squad.
The youngsters are the first to benefit from a new integrated senior and youth team training programme, with the club bidding to emulate the likes of AZ Alkmaar after representatives of the Eredivisie club visited Heart in June.
Star signing Josip Tadic could play his first minutes in club colours against the Knights, though the Croatian striker's condition will be evaluated when he arrives on Monday, having gained his work permit to play in Australia.
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