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Feb 10, 2012

Heart lose Fred for A-League clash

Faltering Melbourne Heart will again have to do without inspirational captain Fred for Saturday's crucial A-League game at Newcastle.

The classy 32-year-old Brazilian midfielder, who has missed the Heart's past five games with a groin strain, was originally named in an extended 17-man squad.

However, it was decided on Friday that he would not travel with the team who are searching for their first victory of 2012 after a winless run of seven games.

"We've done a few video things with him not being there, so that (Fred's absence) probably doesn't play too much of a part," Newcastle captain Jobe Wheelhouse told AAP on Friday.

"But if a player of his ability is not in the team, it's going to be obviously beneficial for us."

A Newcastle win will lift the Jets above the Heart into fifth place.

"It's the same scenario as last week. We were two points behind Sydney last week, so it's kind of like a final for us each week," Wheelhouse said.

"They are two points ahead of us. We knock them off and get a good result and we jump them in the six, so that's the priority."

Newcastle have been buoyed by successive away wins and a club record of five goals in a single match against Sydney last week.

Heart assistant coach Ante Milicic was under no illusion about the task facing his team, who lost 3-2 at Newcastle in the opening round.

"It will be a difficult game because they've won their last two away and they are starting to hit form at the right time and (playing them) at home, it's never an easy proposition," Milicic said.

"Hopefully we can go there and again have a good performance.

"We played quite well there round one of the season, so there's no reason why we can't go there and get a good result."

Melbourne midfielder Kristian Sarkies is under a slight injury cloud after getting kicked in the calf at training on Friday.

Wheelhouse attributed Newcastle's recent form lift to the players adjusting to the style of coach Gary van Egmond, who was appointed after the season started.

"It's starting to show in the results on the park," Wheelhouse said.

"It was really good to score five against Sydney but, in saying that, we were probably under the cosh there for a little bit.

"We are probably not where we want to be yet, but we're on the right track."

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