Melbourne Heart assistant coach Hayden Foxe says the club must learn from the past if they are to get the most out of Vince Grella.
Melbourne Heart and Vince Grella must learn from the mistakes of the past if they are to get the most out of the former Qantas Socceroos midfielder's time in the Hyundai A-League.
The A-League has seen a number of ex-Socceroos and older imports come to Australia and struggle to get onto the park thanks to a run of injuries, which arguably could have been avoided if the fitness base had been there from the beginning.
Juninho played 14 games in his one season with Sydney FC as he never fully recovered from a shoulder injury, while Perth Glory had fitness issues with experienced pair Stan Lazaridis and Hayden Foxe, who played a combined 21 matches over two seasons each for the Western Australian club.
But with Foxe now at Heart as an assistant coach, the club from the red half of Melbourne have first-hand knowledge on how best to prepare a veteran such as Grella for A-League action, revealing he is unlikely to play for at least a month.
Grella's last senior match was in September 2011 when he came off the bench for Blackburn Rovers against Newcastle United in the English Premier League and the 33-year-old defensive midfielder only played six games in his last two seasons in England.
Foxe believes players cannot afford to cut corners if they are to remain fit while playing in Australia's national competition.
"It's not an easy league to play in," Foxe said.
"Everyone is very physically fit, the heat because of the summer is very difficult time to play during that time of year ... and if you don't look after yourself the right way and do all the extras and the details, you could easily break down very quickly."
Speaking at his unveiling as a Melbourne Heart player on Tuesday, Grella conceded he cannot dispute his disappointing playing statistics while in England, which were heavily influenced by a run of injuries.
But the former captain of Serie A club Parma claimed he would not have resumed his career if he thought his body would break down again.
"The numbers are numbers, they are not open for discussion," Grella said.
"Unfortunately the last two years haven't been positive but if I thought I wasn't going to be positive, I wouldn't have come in the first place."
Foxe reckons Grella's desire to play in England may have led to him rushing back at times when he had not fully recovered from injury and the Heart assistant coach is confident that mistake will not be made again.
"Our aim is four weeks (until Grella plays), four to six weeks but it could be less, it could be longer," Foxe reveals.
"But that's a decision the club will make with (head coach) John (Aloisi) and the physios and the coaching department."
Foxe believes Grella's recruitment will improve Heart's tactical flexibility, allowing Aloisi to move Richard Garcia further forward or play the two of them alongside each other as screening midfielders.
But Foxe remains adamant there is no point throwing Grella into the starting line-up too early.
"If you're not ready, it doesn't matter who you are, if you're not fit, your decision-making is slower, your timing is off and it's very hard to repeat the standard that's required week-in, week-out," Foxe says.