Engelaar set for Debut as Heart try to avoid breaking wrong record

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Dutch international and Melbourne Heart marquee signing Orlando Engelaar hadn’t had the best of starts with his new club as he received a severe leg break in a pre-season match against Brisbane Roar back in August.

Engelaar returned to action last Sunday in the Melbourne Youth Derby as he played 30 minutes in the Heart’s 3-0 win over the Victory.

According to Coach John van’t Schip the tall and powerful midfielder will be involved in this Friday nights clash against surprise outfit Newcastle Jets.

“Orlando will certainly be part of the squad, we’re still deciding what kind of role he can have,” the coach said on Thursday.

“He’s been out for a long time and we want to bring him on in a good way.

“We’re thinking about bringing him in for the start of the game but that’s something we will decide tomorrow.”

Engelaar wasn’t in the best of shape in the youth fixture last Sunday at Epping Stadium against Melbourne Victory’s youth side, but his touch and ability to hit a first-time pass was evident and showed that he can be a class above the rest.

He will undoubtedly improve the competition strugglers in the second half of the season and anything he might offer on Friday would be a bonus.

Heart’s other long-term absentee, Jonathan Germano, also made his first appearance in that youth game and scored a goal in Heart’s 3-0 win. But he will be missing for at least another week to get up to scratch, van ‘t Schip said.

While Heart would like to strengthen its squad in the January window, there were no spots available on the roster unless players left, the coach added when asked if the red-and-white were in the running to sign Tom Rogic, a target for Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, on loan.

“We don’t have any room,” said van ‘t Schip.

“The only chance that we can do something is if players leave.

“We have two players coming back, they are new recruits for us. If something happens, we will be there to do something. If you want to have space then someone has to leave.”

The last time Melbourne Heart won a competitive fixture you’ll have to date all the way back to February last season against Sydney FC, Almost a year ago.

If the Heart fail to win its encounter against the Newcastle Jets or even share the spoils, there unwanted record will stretch to 20 matches without a win, the worst record in A-League history.

The current record (19 matches) is shared between the red and white of Melbourne and New Zealand Knights who are now defunct.

Melbourne Heart has had numerous chances to take three points this season but haven’t capitalized on missed opportunities.

Several times they have been in a position to win games, never more so than when two goals up against champion Central Coast well into the second half of the round two AAMI Park fixture before conceding two penalties.

But, van ‘t Schip who is back in charge for a second time after the dismissal three weeks ago of John Aloisi – acknowledges, that it is all about taking your chances when they come.

A lacklustre attack that has proved incapable of converting good opportunities and a defence that has lapsed in concentration at the wrong time too often has put Heart in this invidious position.

Not that the coach is making too big a deal of it, scoffing at suggestions that avoiding a record should be powerful motivation for his players.

“If that was the motivating factor, we would already have got out of it,” the Dutchman said.

“It’s my third game (since returning). I am not thinking about it. The players should be focused on other things – the way to play, the game plan – that’s the most important thing.”

Kristian Stojanov

Kristian is the youngest member of the Football Central team. He is currently studying Media and Communications at Deakin University and currently plays in the lower Victorian state leagues. Coming from a passionate football family, Kristian hopes to live up to his expectations by one day pursuing a career in football journalism.

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