Heart to hold no one back
Melbourne Heart have promised the kid gloves will come off their veterans for a weekend clash with Melbourne Victory set to shape both teams' A-League finals destiny.
The Heart have juggled and cuddled several of their ageing players amid a rash of injuries and tough scheduling.
Former Socceroo Josip Skoko was rested entirely for Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Gold Coast to keep him ready for Saturday night's derby at Etihad Stadium.
Striker John Aloisi was only given a short run off the bench, while Dutch 36-year-old Gerald Sibon has been regularly substituted and skipper Simon Colosimo has also missed matches recently.
But with the fifth-placed Victory looming for the sixth-placed Heart in the highest stakes Melbourne soccer clash since the old National Soccer League, Heart coach John van `t Schip has promised to hold nothing back.
In a tight race for the remaining spots in the top six, the losers of Saturday night's match risk missing the finals altogether.
"We will need fit players on Saturday - a few you can take a little bit of a risk (with) - but not too much because there are only three players you have available on the bench," van `t Schip said.
"Josip had a little soreness after the game in Perth. He's going okay and I hope we can make use of him on Saturday."
Dutch winger Rutger Worm could also return from injury, while Brazilian striker Alex Terra - who has scored goals in successive matches - is expected to be fit after a late hamstring scare against the Gold Coast.
Terra has been plagued by soft tissue problems all season.
But he gave another reminder of how important he is to the Heart with a neatly-taken first-half goal against Gold Coast to follow his spectacular bicycle kick effort against Perth Glory in their previous match.
Heart skipper Simon Colosimo dismissed suggestions the sudden-death nature of what lies ahead may work against his club, pointing at how well they have performed under similar pressure to stretch their unbeaten run to five matches with the Gold Coast draw.
"We've been doing it for a month - every game we come into we know we need to perform well,," Colosimo said.
"We've got 11 from 15 points if you look at our last five games.
"There's no doubt that we're going to go out there on Saturday and not worry about what the table says, but that we've got 90 minutes of football where we have to match them in every department and hopefully come out on top."