Former Australia midfielder Vince Grella's injury problems have followed him to Melbourne Heart, but coach John Aloisi is optimistic he can be considered soon
|By JAMES WILLOUGHBY
Melbourne Heart head coach John Aloisi said Socceroo midfielder Vince Grella will soon be considered for his club debut after he returned to training on Thursday.
Signed on a free transfer in October, the arrival of the 33-year-old - formerly of Empoli, Parma and Blackburn Rovers - was hailed as a coup for Heart, who sit seventh on the A-League table.
But Grella, who has not played a competitive game since September 2011, suffered another fitness setback in December as doubts lingered over his involvement this season.
Grella has been working hard in recent weeks, however, working through a specialised training programme.
And after taking part in a session ahead of Heart's home fixture against Adelaide United at AAMI Park on Friday, Aloisi said Grella is not far away from making his debut.
"Vince Grella's good," Aloisi told reporters on Thursday.
"He is going well. He will be involved soon. I can't say exactly when but we are very happy with the way he is going."
The addition of Grella would be a huge bonus for the Heart and add further depth to Aloisi's squad.
Successive home wins against the Newcastle Jets and the Brisbane Roar were followed by a terrific performance for 80 minutes against Sydney FC last week.
The Heart faded in the dying stages at the Allianz Stadium though, losing 2-1, and Aloisi said he has talked with his players again about their regular concession of late goals.
"We've spoken about it at length and I'm sure they'll learn from the mistakes that they've made," he said.
"Against Sydney we started to drop off too much, we lost the ball, we lost the possession and that's why we invited pressure.
"I think it's more of the players coaching each other out there [and] making sure if they see it [dropping off] happening, that they do something about it.
"It's a general thing, not just the leaders, it's everyone on the pitch helping each other and coaching each other."
Aloisi said the first 80 minutes of the match in Sydney was some of the best football his side had played this season, despite the defeat.
And he is delighted with the form of club captain Fred, who he says is returning to some of his old form.
"He was very good against Sydney," he said.
"We are starting to see the old Fred which is exciting for us and it's taken a while... he had a major operation in the off-season and has taken his time to get back to his old self."
Aloisi paid compliments to Adelaide ahead of Friday's meeting but is quietly confident his side can make it three home wins on the trot against the second-placed side.
"They have got great players. [Jeronimo] Neumann doesn't start all the time and whenever he does play he causes problems," he said.
"I think they have got a good side and it will be a tough game for us tomorrow. We just have to be careful of their danger players, [Dario] Vidosic and Neumann mostly.
"[But] I'm sure that if we play like we did last week and move the ball quickly, we'll open up and be able to find their holes [in defence].
David Williams will return from suspension on Friday but is not assured of a starting berth, with Nick Kalmar is a chance to be retained at left midfield, while the Heart will be without striker Golgol Mebrahtu due to injury.