Heart re-sign young guns

Melbourne Heart have received a huge boost ahead of Friday's Melbourne derby by announcing the re-signing of four star youngsters - Eli Babalj, Aziz Behich, Brendan Hamill and Jason Hoffman.

Melbourne Heart have received a huge boost ahead of Friday's Melbourne derby by announcing the re-signing of four star youngsters - Eli Babalj, Aziz Behich, Brendan Hamill and Jason Hoffman.

The club, in just their second year, is developing a reputation for building some of Australia's best young football talent with all four re-signed players members of Australia's underage set-up.

Behich and Hamill have agreed to two-year contract extensions, and Hoffman and Babalj, one year.

Head coach John van 't Schip said developing the next generation of professional players is an important part of the club's philosophy.

"Our goal is to offer a pathway for future Socceroos," van 't Schip said.

"In Eli, Aziz, Brendan and Jason, we believe we have four very talented young players capable of one day doing just that, representing Australia at senior international level if they keep working hard.

"They have all already achieved international recognition at youth level, and represent the future of this club and what we hope to achieve and become."

Nineteen-year-old Babalj has netted twice this season after establishing himself as a member of Heart-s starting XI while Behich, 21, has emerged as one of the leading left-sided players in the Hyundai A-League.

At 19 Hamill is playing regular senior football in defence and his development path is similar to 22-year-old Hoffman's.

Babalj said he was looking forward to repaying the club for their faith in him.

"Every kid's dream is to play in Europe one day but at the moment my focus is on Melbourne Heart... that's why I re-signed, to prove myself here."

Hamill said the youngsters at the club are keen to stick together to build something special.

"We're all going through the same things in life and it would be a good thing to win the title and be successful together," said Hamill.

"I'm just trying to improve as a player, to become better, to become a regular. I'm nowhere near where I want to be and the hard work is to come."

In addition to the quartet, Heart have already contracted exciting talents Curtis Good, 18, Adrian Zahra, 21, and Mate Dugandzic, 22, for next season.