Heart opt to rest Babalj

Melbourne Heart FC advises striker Eli Babalj will be rested from today’s Hyundai A-League match against the Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park

Melbourne Heart striker Eli Babalj will be rested from today-s Hyundai A-League match against the Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park.

Having featured in the starting eleven during Melbourne Heart's last eight matches, head coach John van ‘t Schip has opted to omit Babalj from his squad following consultation with the club-s high performance staff.

With the current campaign marking Babalj-s first as regular member of the starting eleven, van ‘t Schip felt it was in the 19-year-old-s best interests to offer him respite from Heart-s heavy current schedule in an attempt to ward off potential injury or burn out.

Babalj, whose pre-season was compromised after a lengthy stint on the sidelines, has been one of Heart-s leading performers this season, sitting second on the Club-s goal scoring chart with four strikes and a number of assists.

Van ‘t Schip said: “Eli has some physical things that we are taking care of. That's why he didn't train yesterday - he only did the warm-up. He has a longer recovery time and won-t play.”

Babalj-s omission has paved the way for David Williams to return to the match day squad after he was overlooked for selection against Perth Glory.

With the two-time Socceroo yet to cement a regular first-team place, tonight-s match provides Williams with a significant opportunity to make an impact and stake his claim for future selection.

Melbourne heart squad: 1.Clint Bolton (GK), 2.Michael Marrone, 3.Brendan Hamill, 6.Matt Thompson (C), 7.Rutger Worm, 8.Kristian Sarkies, 9.Maycon, 11.Alex Terra, 13.Jonatan Germano, 15.David Williams, 16.Aziz Behich, 17.Jason Hoffman, 18.Curtis Good, 23.Mate Dugandzic, 30.Sebastian Mattei (GK)

In: David Williams (promoted) Out: Eli Babalj (rested) Unavailable: Nick Kalmar (back - 4 weeks), Kliment Taseski (foot - 4 to 6 weeks), Fred (groin - 4 to 6 weeks), Wayne Srhoj (quad - 1 week)