Heart skipper stays Kewell under pressure

MELBOURNE Heart captain Harry Kewell expects there to be no love lost on the field tonight when he takes on his former side in the Melbourne derby.

Kewell, who played for Victory in the intra-city clash two seasons ago, will front up against his old side in the opening round of the season.

But despite the added attention surrounding him, the 35-year-old is adamant he’s just going out there to do the job given to him by coach John Aloisi.

“I’m fully focusing on Melbourne Heart,” Kewell said.

“Ok, it’s a derby, it’s my old team that I played for, but for me I just push that aside and concentrate on doing my job. I’m not gonna get too caught up in it.

“It’s another game for me and to go out there and win it would be something special, but first and foremost I’m gonna concentrate on my job."

Having played for a “tough and competitive” Victory side, the Aussie veteran said he’s keen to experience the action in red and white.

“Hopefully it’s just as fast and furious as when I played for the other side,” he said, adding he didn’t expect much in the way of “friendly banter” on the field.

“I think it’s going to be fiery and that’s what everyone’s looking forward to.”

Kewell was given the honour of captaining Heart but has called on his teammates to share the load.

“Once I get out there it’s game time,” he said.

“Yes I am wearing the armband, but like I said before, I need 11 players out there to be captains and that’s what I ask for and that’s what the team’s ready for.

“There’s a lot of hungry boys here. A few of them have had their challenges early on in their career and they’re trying to put that behind them and start to look forward.

“The determination in their eyes is good to see.”

Kewell played in most of Heart’s preseason games, but was rested in the last two as a precaution.

Even so the skipper says he feels fine and ready to go come kick-off.

“Come and watch the game and see - I feel okay,” he said. “It was very tough at the start getting back in to it but once you got over that hurdle you were fine.”

Despite losing every game against A-League opposition in preseason, a trend that has continued since the club’s inception, Kewell says the performances were what count.

“The results didn’t flow our way but on a performance level I was happy with what I saw.”

Meanwhhile, with Australia in the midst of World Cup preparations, Kewell was coy about his own Socceroos chances.

“Everyone else in the A-league has made it no secret that they want to be part of it, so I’m no different,” he said.

“But first and foremost my job is playing for the Heart and if you play well for them then you might have a chance, but at the end of the day the manager picks the team.”