He may be a 10-cap Socceroo but Michael Zullo accepts he may not immediately snatch the Sydney FC starting jersey from teenage full-back Joel King.
Experienced left-back, Zullo, has appeared in five matches for the Premiers elect in 2019/20, making only two starts, after suffering a series of injuries.
The 31-year-old has returned to training after an eight-week recovery from a calf issue he aggravated, having being kept sidelined earlier in the season with a stomach bug and a quad injury.
Those set-backs forced head coach Steve Corica into handing King a lengthy run in the starting line-up, which the youngster has grabbed with both hands across his 17 matches.
And the two-time Hyundai A-League Premier, and two-time Champion, is accepting the reality that he may not walk straight back into the Sky Blues team for the crucial run-in.
“The team has been doing really well so I’m not really in a position to demand anything.”
“I’m just looking forward to enjoying myself on the field again and doing what I love,” Zullo told sydneyfc.com
Among their sensational run of recording 15 wins in 19 matches, the one thing Corica’s side are yet to achieve this season is a victory against their bitter rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.
Sydney FC’s only two defeats in 2019/20 have come against their crosstown antagonists, both 1-0 losses, and Zullo is desperate to pull on the Sky Blue jersey for their third instalment of the trilogy.
“I would like to play against the Wanderers on the weekend but that’s up to head coach Steve Corica,” Zullo said.
“I feel good now, I feel like I’ve done a really thorough rehab program.
“It’s been one step at a time and it’s really pushed me into uncomfortable territory, there’s been some really hard training sessions.”
While Zullo has been putting in the hard yards, the defending Hyundai A-Champions have position themselves three wins away from getting their hands back on the Premiers Plate.
Although Zullo has not been a huge part of that accomplishment on the field, he has been there every step of the way and cannot wait to play his part in Sydney FC’s Championship defence.
“For a fan the climax of the week is going to the game and watching your team win, and for a player it’s the same,” Zullo said.
“I’ve had to step back and be a fan, obviously the boys are top of the league and playing some exceptional football, and now I just want to be able to contribute in some way this season.”
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC
Saturday, 21 March
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT