MELBOURNE Heart coach John Aloisi has taken aim at critics who have questioned veteran Harry Kewell's commitment to the cause.
Kewell missed a penalty in the Heart's 2-1 loss to Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Sunday but Aloisi launched a passionate defence of his former Socceroos team-mate after the Heart extended their winless streak to 15 matches.
"I'm disappointed in quite a few people questioning Harry and questioning his commitment," Aloisi fired.
"People in general have been questioning is he here to play? But I see him day in, day out and if he's not working on the pitch he is off the pitch.
"He's given everything possible to make sure he can play and lead the team out there and I'm disappointed in that (criticism)."
Asked what he was thinking when Kewell sprayed his 66th-minute penalty wide of the target, Aloisi replied: "I was just trying to make sure that Harry wasn't going to drop his head and credit to Harry, he didn't drop his head.
"He kept on going, he kept on linking up, played other players in and that's another reason why we lifted in the second half when Harry came on - the whole team lifts.
"He's shattered because he missed the penalty. He's saying sorry to everyone but Harry will be fine, he'll get through it because we need him to keep going and playing and he's working hard to make sure he gets it right."
The 35-year-old is two games in to his comeback from neck and ankle injuries and Aloisi is hopeful Kewell will be ready to return to the starting side in next week's derby against Melbourne Victory.
Meanwhile, Aloisi lamented his side's inability to convert their chances and says his side's run of 15 games without a victory is 'killing him inside'.
"We've only got ourselves to blame, again," Aloisi fumed.
"Two cheap goals we gave away ... but defensively generally our shape was good except giving away those goals.
"And in the second half, you can't afford to create so many chances week in, week out and not take them.
"We had six clear cut chances nearly in the six-yard box and we only scored one of them, so yeah I'm disappointed because it's all about winning and at the moment we're not winning.
"You have to put them away, you have to punish teams and we're not doing that so I'm going to be upset that we're losing, it's not good enough."
But the coach is adamant the last-placed Heart can turn things around.
"Of course I'll keep fighting and my players will keep fighting," he said.
"They didn't give up tonight and I'm not questioning their attitude ... it's just silly mistakes that they made but they'll keep fighting and I will.
"This is a tough time but we have to stick together and the whole club is working hard to turn this around."