Skipper backs Skoko rebound

Melbourne Heart skipper Simon Colosimo has backed the club's marquee man Josip Skoko to bounce back after a torrid Hyundai A-League debut against Central Coast on Thursday night.

Melbourne Heart skipper Simon Colosimo has backed the club's marquee man Josip Skoko to bounce back after a torrid Hyundai A-League debut against Central Coast on Thursday night.

Colosimo had said in the build-up to the season that Skoko was one of the most talented players he had seen and predicted he would make a big impression on the Hyundai A-League.

But hampered by injury and frustrated by the close marking of Matt Simon, the 34-year-old had less of an impact than he would have hoped in his first club match on Australian soil in 15 years.

While the physical treatment he received seemed to frustrate Skoko, Colosimo believes that the veteran, who has played club football in Croatia, Turkey and England, is tough enough to bounce back.

"Josip played in the English Premier League, that's physical enough," Colosimo said. "I don't think you have to explain to a professional footballer that it's physical. It goes without saying."

"Everyone who comes in knows that the first thing you have to match in any league, you have to do the physical stuff then the football comes in."

"I think Josip, we counted his tackles, and he made 10 winning tackles and he only lost two, he came out better in that department, he just might have been a little bit underdone fitness wise.

Skoko left the ground with 23 minutes to go to get treatment on a knock he received during the match. Coach John van 't Schip said it was more of a precaution to ensure he didn't suffer a more serious injury.

"We sent him inside immediate to get ice, he had a knock in the first half already and last week he had a problem with his other leg. We have 29 games and we need Josip for the rest of the season as well. If we lost him now, maybe in the last 20 minutes because we left him on the pitch, that would not be a good thing," Van 't Schip said.

The Dutchman said that Skoko would be better prepared to deal with the physical aspect of the defence when he was back to 100 percent fit.

"Josip again, is not fully in his fitness as well. We will have to deal with that. We want to play that way and that's the quality we have."

Skoko is expected to be fit for next Friday's match against Newcastle as is Colosimo who pulled up with some hamstring tightness.