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Feb 22, 2013

Neill not a Heart focus in A-League clash

Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi doesn't care whether Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill is treated as a villain at AAMI Park on Sunday.

He'll just be treating the new Sydney FC signing as one more star the Heart have to combat if they are to return to the A-League top six.

Heart chief executive Scott Munn tipped earlier in the week there would be extra feeling in Sunday's clash, saying Neill "played" the Heart by indicating he would sign with them before joining the Sky Blues.

But Aloisi said he and his squad's sole focus was the three points needed to climb from eighth and overtake fifth-placed Sydney.

"There's no extra spice playing against any individual," Aloisi told reporters.

"Against a team that is around our position on the table, if we win, we can go back into fifth place - it's an important game."

But if the Melbourne crowd take a more personal focus, it won't bother the Heart coach.

"I'm not sure what they think of him as a person or as a player. I'm not too worried about that," Aloisi said.

The Heart coach said Sydney's late-season resurgence was due to their line-up of great individuals, saying Neill was just another in a stellar list headed by Alessandro Del Piero and including Joel Griffiths, Brett Emerton, Ali Abbas and Tiago Calvano.

But he said the Heart, whose past eight home games have yielded six wins and a draw, were confident their game plan would prove strong enough to nullify them, particularly at home.

"We've got good individuals also," Aloisi said.

"But our team, most of the time when we play at home, we're well organised and we play well as a unit.

"I'm not saying Sydney doesn't but we like to focus more on our game."

Aloisi said not giving up free kicks near the penalty area would be a key, given Del Piero's potency from set pieces.

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