Heart beating for finals

Melbourne Heart skipper Simon Colosimo says reaching the A-League finals is the minimum requirement for the club in the 2011/12 season.The Heart finished eighth and six points outside the playoffs in their debut season, but Colosimo is confident an intense pre-season campaign will have the club in good shape come the season opener against Newcastle on October 8.

“We need to crawl before we walk, that means getting out there and cementing a finals spot as early as possible,” Colosimo said on Monday.

“Which position that is, hopefully we’ve got a few games up our sleeve to decide where we sit, but playing finals definitely is our number-one priority on the football field.”

Heart have lost a wealth of experience since last season with the retirements of former Socceroos’ John Aloisi and Josip Skoko, along with the departure of mercurial Dutchman Gerald Sibon.

Australian internationals Michael Beauchamp (Sydney) and Dean Heffernan (Perth) are also gone, leaving some room in the salary cap for coach John van ‘t Schip.

But Heart have been somewhat quiet in the transfer market during the off-season and are yet to announce a major signing.

They have been linked with former Melbourne Victory star Fred, who is plying his trade at MLS outfit DC United, and Ukrainian midfielder Yevhen Levchenko.

Even so, Colosimo believes opportunity will knock for a number of Heart’s emerging talents this season, just as it did for the likes of Aziz Behich, Adrian Zahra and Nick Kalmar in 2010/11.

“Our coaches and JVS especially don’t care where players come from, whether it may be State League Division 2, the Victorian Premier League or overseas,” Colosimo said.

“They come in and get the same opportunities as the guys sitting next to them, if they can perform they will play.”

One player Colosimo expects to make an impact is 18-year-old defender Brendan Hamill, who may find himself alongside the skipper in central defence after the departure of Beauchamp.

Hamill made 12 appearances last season and Colosimo has tipped big things ahead for the Sydney-born stopper.

“Brendan Hamill is a future Socceroo in the making, he’s going to be a superstar,” Colosimo said.