Assistant Coach Ante Milicic discusses the Club’s upcoming match against the Newcastle Jets at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium on Sunday.
Assistant Coach Ante Milicic discusses the Club-s upcoming match against the Newcastle Jets at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium on Sunday.
Have Alex Terra and Dean Heffernan recovered in time for the trip?
Alex hasn-t, his injury has taken a lot longer than was initially expected, but at the same time, with amount of travelling and games we have left, we aren-t at a stage where we are willing to risk him. Heffernan has trained today solidly with the group, and both the medical staff and Dean himself have declared him fit and ready, so Dean-s in and Alex is out.
Following Aziz Behich-s performance against the Gold Coast, does Dean Heffernan face a challenge to earn his place back in the starting line-up?
Of course, but that-s the same with all the positions on the field. You are starting to see now that a lot of the boys who have come into the team, you can even have a look at the ones who came in from the VPL, with Kalmar, Zahra and Behich, they have all come in and done a good job for us. I think that-s healthy for the squad and shows we have good depth. If you want to be successful, that-s what you need. We genuinely have two players for every position when we have our full squad available, so there are still a couple that are out, such as the likes of Terra to come back, and we still have Brendan Hamill as well. The competition for places is good and it-s only a healthy thing.
Gerald Sibon was in great form prior to his suspension. Is he likely slot straight back into the starting line-up?
Yes, of course. Gerald-s experience is definitely a big plus to the group, and at the same time, Terra-s out, Aloisi is out, Eli Babalj only started training later in the week. Gerald has done well in the two weeks he hasn-t been playing on match day, so he-s eager to start and he will come straight in.
While Newcastle have only scored five times this season, they boast one of the best defensive records in the league. Are you wary of the challenge they pose at both ends of the park?
Of course. They haven-t scored a lot of goals, but at the same time they did take the lead in their last game against Brisbane, and they do defend with a lot of numbers. They are very compact and get behind the ball, and they make it difficult for you. Although Michael Bridges, their main threat is out, they still have other players there who are capable and we have to be aware of that, offensively and defensively. But we believe our last three performances have been very positive and if we can build on that, I-m sure we can put on a good display and get a positive result.
The move to Port Macquarie adds an additional hurdle for Heart on Sunday. Do you feel the Club has prepared well for the potential hurdles it faces?
I think we have that all covered. The pitch, the stadium, the bus trip, it-s the same for both teams. We are taking an extra player and an extra person for the medical staff, another pair of hands. We-ve organised massages, we-ve organised good meals at good places at the right times. We-ve had a lot of discussions about when we need to hydrate, and sleep times. We-ve changed our arrival into Newcastle as well, so we like to think we have done everything we possibly can to get the players prepared and focused. I think even looking back a couple of weeks ago to Wellington which is a difficult away trip in terms of conditions, this is a difficult away trip in terms of conditions for different reasons, but at the same time, we proved in Wellington we can overcome these kind of challenges and there-s no reason we can-t go there and play our normal game.