United in ALM 'rut', coach demands effort

After overcoming a personal health challenge, Adelaide United coach Carl Veart has urged his players to step up their efforts on the field and resuscitate their flagging A-League Men season.

Veart will return to the sidelines when the sixth-placed Reds host Macarthur FC on Friday night after being hospitalised with a bout of pneumonia.

The 52-year-old says he is recovering well after having had a high fever which lasted four days.

Of greater concern for Veart is his side's lacklustre form, having notched one win, three losses and two draws since the mid-season ALM break.

"At the moment, we're just holding onto a top-six spot and it's not where we want to be," he said on Thursday.

"We want to be higher up the ladder. The last six weeks, our performances just haven't been good enough. Our effort hasn't been good enough.

"The players are well aware of that, and all of us have to pitch in together and work hard to get ourselves out of this little rut we're in.

"Generally at home, we put on good performances so that's what we need tomorrow night."

United will line up against the fifth-placed Bulls without midfielder Juande and centre-back Alexander Popovic, both suspended after accumulating yellow cards.

Defensive pair Ben Warland and Nick Ansell are expected to play after recovering from injury and illness respectively but fellow backman Lachlan Barr (hamstring) remains a week away.

Veart's illness forced him to miss last week's 1-1 draw with bottom-placed rivals Melbourne Victory but he lamented his side's fadeout after a solid start.

"Two teams that just couldn't hit the knockout blow, and it was more to do with confidence on both teams," he said.

"That's what winning does. It breeds that confidence, and you can ride your luck a little bit when you have that confidence.

"The only way you can get that winning feeling is to keep working hard, and that's something we've really pushed into the boys this last couple of weeks.

"We know we have the quality when we play our brand of football but you've got to earn that right."

Fifth-placed Macarthur are a point in front of United and have split their six games since the mid-season break, losing 2-1 to Central Coast last week.