Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Culina returns to action with Sydney FC
By Adrian Warren
Socceroos midfielder Jason Culina has made an encouraging return from a near two-year injury layoff, in a cameo performance in a practice match for Sydney FC on Tuesday.Culina, who hadn't played since suffering a serious knee injury in the Asian Cup in January 2010, played the first 45 minutes in Sydney's 1-0 win over local rival Western Sydney Wanderers.The 32-year-old distributed the ball well and was very vocal as he looked to involve himself in the game from a holding midfield position.Culina had the option of returning for the second half, but decided 45 minutes was a good enough hit out in the warm and very windy conditions at his team's north-western Sydney training venue.The 58-times-capped Socceroo preferred not to speak to the media until he felt he was getting closer to playing an A-League game.He could be a contender for a bench spot against Melbourne Victory on Saturday and reported no ill effects to Sydney's physiotherapist Stan Ivancic."He said 'I feel really good and despite that, that's enough for today and let's freshen up'" Ivancic told reporters. "But he was very pleased with his effort."Ivancic said how well Culina pulled up from the practice fitout would determine when he was able to play again."It's hard to pick an actual date because of the nature of his injury, but if he keeps going like this, it's not too far off," Ivancic said.Ivancic, who has worked with Culina for about eight months, said the midfielder had worked as hard as anyone he'd been associated with in his recovery from major leg and knee surgery."He's worked really hard to get to this point; today is a real stepping stone towards getting him back on the park," Ivancic said."The fact he's got through, we're all happy with it."All credit to him, he got through quite comfortably."Sydney also used the practice match to bring defenders Adam Griffiths and Pascal Bosschaart back from injury, with each also playing the first half.Dutchman Bosschaart, who suffered an Achilles injury in Sydney's final match of last season, said he felt good after playing the first half."I'll see how I pull up tomorrow and see if I've got any chance for the weekend," Bosschaart said.Bosschaart, who played against Culina in the Dutch league, was delighted with the way the Socceroo slotted into the Sydney side."He gives us a rest, he wants to play the ball and it's the game I want to play," Bosschaart said.