Celeski return on track

Melbourne midfielder Billy Celeski has taken the biggest step in his recovery from a serious knee injury, returning to full training for the first time on Wednesday.

Melbourne midfielder Billy Celeski has taken the biggest step in his recovery from a serious knee injury, returning to full training for the first time on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the Round 5 match against Newcastle in September, has reached a significant point of his recovery by partaking in a 'five-on-five' training match with his team-mates.

Celeski said that the break has only increased his hunger for the round ball and he thinks he can continue the rapid improvement he has shown in his time at Melbourne.

"That was my first session. I'm feeling it a little bit now. It's swollen but it's great to be out there. It's a lot better than say a month ago when I didn't know how far it was until I could train again," he said.

"Once I got training again, I got really hungry, I appreciate it a lot more, I've had a setback with the hip a couple of years ago and that did the same thing for me, I think I'm more in love with it if anything. I just want to be out there kicking the ball around."

Celeski, who was a key player in Melbourne's all conquering 2008-09 campaign, believes he can recapture the form that propelled him into Socceroos contention at the start of last year.

"I was really happy with how I performed last season. Obviously, it did play on my mind, not having that momentum to carry on into this season, being injured. I think I've put that aside when I started training again. I haven't really thought about it, I want to leave that behind me and concentrate on getting back out there and playing well and making sure my body stays fit and healthy," he said.

The Asian Cup is a logical target, with the possibility that Australia will look to locally-based players for the tournament in Qatar in January last year. But while that remains a longer-term goal, it is the shorter-term assignments which interest him more.

"I haven-t thought that far ahead. It's more about getting back on the park, and getting the training into me and see how the knee will pull up after that. Take it game by game. I'm out of contract at the end of this season, I'm more thinking about what I can do for the club and concentrate on getting another deal and cementing my spot," he said.

Celeski is reluctant to set himself a definite return date but says that if Melbourne should make it through to the second round of the AFC Champions League, he is a chance to play in the middle of May.

"I don-t want to get too excited. It was only my first session today and I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. All I can do is take it session, by session, I know it's a bit of a cliche but that's what I'm going to have to do. Fingers crossed, if we do go through, maybe I can get on the bench, sneak on there somehow and take it from there," he said.

Meanwhile, Celeski revealed he had become a sounding board for both Matthew Kemp and Archie Thompson, who have also both undergone knee reconstructions in recent months.

"I've been on the phone with Archie quite a bit since he did his knee. Telling him that the pain he's been feeling and what he's been going through is all normal. Those two boys have used me as a bit of a sounding board, to get them by," he said.

"Kempy's coming along pretty well, he was out of the brace pretty early, Archie is obviously a bit different. He was a bigger injury, but I think those boys will be fine they are in good hands here."