Fred ready to return

Melbourne Heart captain Fred is set to make his long-awaited return from a groin injury against Gold Coast United on Friday night.

Melbourne Heart captain Fred is set to make his long-awaited return from a groin injury against Gold Coast United on Friday night.

Heart were sitting in second place on the Hyundai A-League table at the end of December, but their fall since Fred's departure has been dramatic.

Three points from eight games have left the Heart in sixth place, with finals rather than a title push now the realistic target.

Without a win in 2012 or in Fred's six-game absence it would be hard to argue against the talismanic Brazilian's importance to the side.

The 32-year-old was in manager John van 't Schip's plans for the Newcastle away trip last Saturday but was considered too big a risk and will now return to action at AAMI Park on Friday instead.

"It's always difficult to watch a game when you can't help your team-mates so always when you watch you want to do something and you can't, but I'm ready to go on Friday," Fred said.

Fred has been sidelined since suffering a recurrence of his groin injury against Gold Coast on January 8 with his regime restricted to fitness work.

"(I've) just (been) training this week, trying to get fit to play for Friday. We really need these three points on Friday night," he said.

Opponents Gold Coast are almost certain to finish last but Fred knows their results this season have often belied the wealth of talent in their squad.

"They play good, every game they play home and away. I think if you play good and can't get the three points it's not good enough, if you play bad and get three points it's good," he said.

"We know what we have to do and we'll be putting everything into Friday night."

In a further boost for the Heart, veteran Matt Thompson, who was expected to have another one or two weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury, is in line for a return.