Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi says we shouldn’t expect new signing Vince Grella to play in the next two weeks and that if it takes four - or even six - weeks before he is ready, that won’t be a problem.
Aloisi told The World Game that while his conversations with Grella had convinced him the fellow former Australia player would be able to make a big impression over the bulk of the A-League season, an important part of the plan was to avoid rushing him into action.
Grella had a lot of injury problems playing for Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League over the past four seasons, a stint that came after a decade in which he made a name for himself playing for several clubs in the Serie A and also regularly for the Socceroos.
He has been training with a personal trainer in Italy for the past four months, and after failing to gain a European club contract, is coming back to Australia at 33.
Grella will arrive in Melbourne on Saturday and Heart plays Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Sunday.
TWG will chat with Grella on Saturday morning with video of the interview available later in the day
“We shouldn’t expect to see Vince in the field in the next two weeks, unless he completely surprises me,” Aloisi said.
“It wouldn’t be just hard on him if we played him when he wasn’t ready, it would also be hard on the team.
“It’s too early to say how long it will be before we play him, he hasn’t even arrived yet. He’s been training overseas, but I don’t know how far he is from playing. We won’t know that until Vince is here and we can properly assess him.
“But we won’t rush him. If it was to take four weeks, or even six weeks, that’s not an issue. We’ve got another 25 rounds in front of us at this stage. It’s a long season, and it will be important to ensure Vince is properly prepared to play.
“I know what it’s like when you’ve had a few of those injuries. You’ve got to get your loading right at training before you’re ready to play, and once we do that with Vince and he goes out there to play I’m convinced he will play a very significant role for us.
“I’m sure that we will get a lot out of Vince. He will do well for us. He is the best defensive midfielder, along with Paul Okon, that we have produced in Australia. I’ve got the highest regard for him as a player. He’s got great tactical awareness.
“He will get used to what we’re doing while he is preparing to play, and once he goes out there on the pitch he will pick up on exactly what we want him to do."
Aloisi clearly believes Grella will be worth the wait, but in the meantime he is preparing Heart for a difficult away assignment against Perth Glory on Sunday.
Heart began the season with an impressive, 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory, and then had to hang on for a 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix after having Simon Colosimo sent off.
Heart paid the price for missing several good chances while it was still 11 on 11 against a team that was severely depleted because of players missing through FIFA World Cup qualifying duty and injury.
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