Heart to wait and see on Olyroos

February 17, 2012
By Guy Hand

Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip will wait to see what shape his Olyroos players are in when they return to the club before deciding whether to throw them into the next A-League match.

Mate Dugandzic, the club's leading scorer this season, will return along with Aziz Behich and Jason Hoffman after Wednesday's away Olympic Games qualifier against the United Arab Emirates.

But the trio won't return to Australia until at least Friday, giving van 't Schip a difficult decision ahead of Sunday's home clash with competition leaders Central Coast Mariners.

"We have to see how they feel," van 't Schip said.

"Hopefully they come back with the freshness to be ready for the last five games of the season and to help the team if they're going to be in the line-up or on the bench."

Most vexing will be whether Behich can immediately displace youngster Craig Goodwin, who continued his excellent introduction to the A-League with another marauding effort at left-back in the 1-0 win over Gold Coast United at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Behich was the competition's form left-back until joining the Olyroos but Goodwin has built a compelling case for retention.

The Heart have also welcomed back Brazilian playmaker Fred and midfield workhorse Matt Thompson from injury - both playing a vital role in setting up Eli Babalj's second half match-winner against Gold Coast.

Fred is confident his troublesome groin problem is behind him, producing an excellent effort on his return and lifting the Heart back into the winners' list for the first time in nine matches.

The Heart haven't won a game this season without Fred in the line-up.

"We all know how important Fred is ... we know his energy and presence is very important and he showed that again," van 't Schip said.