Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi says Vince Grella will be involved in the club’s first team soon after he returned to training on Thursday.
Signed on a free transfer in October, the arrival of the 33-year-old – who counts Parma and Blackburn Rovers as former clubs – was hailed as a coup for the 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 though, ticking off the boxes in a specialised training program.
And after taking part in a session ahead of the Heart’s home fixture against Adelaide United at AAMI Park on Friday, Aloisi said Grella is not that 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 a team that is just starting to hit form.
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.”