Zullo returns to training ahead of contract talks

Socceroo Michael Zullo has returned to full training this week and is targeting a playing return in two weeks in a major milestone on his road to recovery following an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The 26-year-old left-back sustained the ACL in Utrecht training in late July, undergoing a knee reconstruction in mid-August, with recovery time estimated at six-to-nine months.

Now, less than seven months after the operation Zullo is closing in on a playing return.

“I had my first full training two days ago,” Zullo told FourFourTwo.

“I’m back into the full swing of things. It’s been a really good few weeks for me.

“If it keeps going this way I should be ready to play a first game in two weeks with the second team and then I’ll be available straight away with the first team.

“But obviously they’re not going to rush me back too quickly.”

The initial stages of Zullo’s recovery had him ahead of schedule, given the knee injury was a ‘clean tear’ with no collateral issues or complications.

The 10-time Socceroo was able to resume gym work shortly after the operation and subsequently regained muscle mass in his leg quickly, but waited the full six months before training to allow the ligament to fully heal. He resumed light training, such as passing drills, a month ago.

“If I can play a few games this season, then that’ll be a bonus,” Zullo said.

“Basically this season was a bit of a write-off. I’m staying on track and trying to do everything correctly.”

The former Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United man has been diligent in his rehabilitation, with a view to his long-term career.

However, with his Utrecht contract expiring at the end of the season and his fitness returning, it’s an important time in Zullo’s career with key decisions to be made.

“It’s all culminating at the end of the season – there’s definitely a lot of things going on,” Zullo said.

“Everything was put on hold (after the injury). That was a decision from myself. We wanted to wait and see how things panned out before going further.

“My main priority is getting my fitness back. Now we’re nearing that stage I need to start thinking about it.

 “It’s a pretty daunting prospect but I just need to secure my future for next season.

“I’m just going to weigh up all the options that arise as they come to me and do the best thing for my career.”

Utrecht have a minimum of eight league games remaining in the 2014-15 season, although that could extend if they qualify for the European competition playoffs.