Sarkies close to return

Midfielder Kristian Sarkies is in the mix to make his debut for Melbourne Heart against Gold Coast United on Sunday, despite his coach's admission that he's probably underdone.

Midfielder Kristian Sarkies is in the mix to make his debut for Melbourne Heart against Gold Coast United on Sunday, despite his coach's admission that he's probably underdone.

Sarkies has been sidelined by a nasty double break of his lower right leg sustained back in February while playing in a youth league match for his former club Adelaide United.

Coach John van 't Schip has conceded the 23-year-old is probably not quite ready to return, but his experience is needed to cover for Josip Skoko, who's set to miss at least a fortnight with a groin injury, and the suspended Wayne Srhoj.

"Maybe it's too early still for him but he's on his way back," said van 't Schip of Sarkies after training at Latrobe University on Wednesday.

"He needs more time to really get into the rhythm of playing, but that's the problem because it's not the pre-season period and we have to fit him in in some games that he can start playing."

"Hopefully we can start doing that from now on, depending on how he's feeling."

Van 't Schip said he was undecided about whether to bring in like-for-like replacements for Skoko and Srhoj in the short term or recast the side from within.

He nominated Matt Thompson, who's available after serving a one-match suspension, Nick Kalmar, Jason Hoffman and Kliment Taseski options along with Sarkies.

"I would like to not change too much because then you are changing two things at a time," said van 't Schip.

"Because we don't really have the type of players then maybe we have to change also a little bit our way of playing or just putting two other players in their position."

Van 't Schip said the club was bracing itself for a 'massive week' with matches against Newcastle and Melbourne Victory to follow within five days of Sunday's game at Skilled Park.

"From now on until the end it's going to be like this," he said.

"We are having a tough program like all the clubs will have a tough program so we have to prepare ourselves well and stay fit."

"We just have to deal with it."

Wednesday night's clash between Gold Coast and North Queensland Fury, van 't Schip said, would provide a special opportunity to plan for Sunday.

"They lost the last game, I think the first one in 10, but they have a solid team," he said.

"By missing one player (the injured Joel Porter) they are not having a big problem."

"We'll have a good look at them this evening and look at the plans that (coach, Miron Bleiberg) might be having in his head for Sunday."

"Playing at home they will open up maybe more and that will give us also the chance to see if we can do something with it."