Zullo upbeat about the long road back

Injured Socceroo Michael Zullo says he won’t risk rushing back following a knee reconstruction despite his Utrecht contract expiring at season’s end.

Zullo returned to the Netherlands last week after completing the first phase of his rehabilitation on schedule following surgery in Brisbane.

The 26-year-old left-back’s Asian Cup ambitions were scuppered in late July when he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during Utrecht training.

The club future of Zullo, who spent last season on loan at Adelaide United, is in limbo too, with the normal recovery time from the injury being six to nine months.

However, Zullo told FourFourTwo he won’t rush back to press his case for a new deal and was targeting a playing return in March.

“There are so many cases where players have come back and been 100 per cent and it hasn’t affected them for the rest of their career,” Zullo said.

“That’s what I’m focused on being.

“In the scheme of things a month isn’t going to change much.

“On one hand it would be good to come back and play a handful of games before the end of the season, but we’ll wait and see.

“I’m hopeful I’ll be back for the matches towards the end of March which gives me a good couple of months of games to press a case for my future.

“I’m not really sure where it’s going to go at the moment.”

He added: “A lot of players are fit to play after six or seven months, but it’s been clinically proven that the graft isn’t 100 per cent until nine months.

“If you come back before that, it is a higher risk.”

Zullo returned to running on a treadmill this week and was hopeful of returning to full training following the Dutch winter break in January.

The former Brisbane Roar man’s recovery so far has gone according to schedule, having undergone the operation in his home city.

Zullo, who has had his fair share of injury troubles during his time with Utrecht including a serious groin issue, said he was in a good frame of mind.

“It’s been a bit of an up-and-down time since I’ve been in Holland,” he admitted.

“I don’t have any pressure on myself right now. I was ready to come back to Holland. 

"I’m excited to get going in the next phase of my rehab.”