Wellington Phoenix have been struck a blow on the eve of the Hyundai A-League season, with Lucas Pantelis set to miss the entire 2011/12 campaign with a knee injury.
When Lucas Pantelis' knee buckled during the Wellington Phoenix's friendly fixture against Central Coast Mariners late last month, the midfielder never expected his season would be over before it had begun.
"Initially I thought there was nothing really to worry about," the 29-year-old told Sportal. "I thought it was mainly a bit of medial or meniscus damage."
But scans revealed Pantelis, who only joined Wellington from Adelaide United in May, had ruptured his ACL and there were tears to cartilage and meniscus that required a full knee construction.
"Once I got the results I was quite surprised and quite shocked and really upset," he said. "I cried a bit as well when I found out knowing I'm out for a whole season."
Pantelis has been here before. He suffered a very similar injury to the same left knee in 2006 which forced him to the sidelines for the whole of that A-League season as well.
"I kind of know what to expect now," he said of the long road to recovery ahead of him. "I know exactly what's coming my way."
"Not only is it an injury where there are a lot of hurdles to jump but also the length of it. The fact that you're out for 9 or 12 months is a long time."
"Trying to get a sportsperson to sit down and do nothing is very, very hard. We are always on the go."
But he admitted the hardest part would be watching his team-mates train and play.
"That's the thing you miss the most in a team environment the fact that you can't help your team-mates and you can't help the club," Pantelis said.
"What's done is done unfortunately. I'm disappointed but hopefully I can do the right things and come back bigger, stronger and better next season."
A key part of his recovery process will be as much mental as it is physical.
"I'm very much a team man. I like to be involved as much as possible around the boys and around the club. I would love to help in any capacity I can," he said.
"One thing I learned from doing it five years ago is the fact that the best way of rehab is getting your head right and for me that is being around my team-mates and the coaching staff."
He hopes to have the operation in Auckland next week and after four weeks of 'sitting on the couch and watching TV' plans to get straight into the hard work of getting his knee right.
"You're basically teaching yourself how to walk again. How to step on (your knee again), how to go from side to side. Then you teach it how to kick a ball and how to run. It's a long process," he explained.
"You go month by month, stage by stage. It's something I've been through. I know what I'm dealing with."
"It's just a matter of getting my head very strong and coming through this."