In Terra-fic shape

Melbourne Heart manager John van 't Schip has warned rival A-League clubs that midfielder Alex Terra could be a big improver when the season kicks off in October.

Melbourne Heart manager John van 't Schip has warned rival A-League clubs that midfielder Alex Terra could be a big improver when the season kicks off in October.

Speaking at the filming of their advertisement for season 2011-12, van 't Schip said the 28-year-old Brazilian - who scored four goals in 20 appearances for the Heart last term - was fighting fit for the upcoming campaign, and should he maintain his fitness throughout, will prove a hard man to quell.

"If Alex can be more fit than last year, then we actually have a new player. Last year, a lot of games he played we had to play him when he was not totally fit, and then he got injured again," van 't Schip said on Wednesday.

"He came late in (the pre-season) of course. This year he looks very good, he looks very sharp in the pre-season and fit, so hopefully he can keep that up."

"He's stronger, we took some exams of his body and tried to manage where his problems were, and he worked on it. So it's looking very good, and hopefully with Alex, we have a stronger team."

Van 't Schip has previously been critical of the length of the pre-season, and he admitted the long time between competitive games provided him with the challenge of keeping his squad fit and keen to play.

"The team's good, it's always difficult if the pre-season is that long to keep the boys on a good level of training and motivated. But I have no complaints, I think there's a very good atmosphere, we're working very hard," the Dutchman said.

"If you look back at last season, we have (had a) longer time together to get fit and work with each other so that's a big advantage. So I'm looking forward to it."

Key players Rutger Worm, Simon Colosimo and Clint Bolton are all underdone, according to van 't Schip, but he seemed relaxed that the trio would come up in time for their season opener against Newcastle - co-incidentally, the same team they will face on Friday night in Morwell.

"Fred has to come in, we've got a few injuries ... Simon, Clint (are players) that are not really fit," van 't Schip said.

"Rutger's not fit, they all have little injuries so hopefully when we come back, we can still have a little mini-break at the end of August, just one week to break up the season, and then we'll hit up the last five weeks."

Van 't Schip said he expected his side to perform well on Friday night at the Latrobe City Sports and Entertainment Stadium.

"I think the intensity will be good, because we are already two months in pre-season," he said.

"The first month we did all individual (work), but the last five weeks we're training as a football pre-season, football conditioning so hopefully we can already get to that level, and then from there on, work to the next game (against) Wellington."

"We were there last year (in Morwell), and we had a good time. We played also against Newcastle there so it's nothing new for us, same opponents, same place, same pitch, so hopefully we can give a good impression."