Billy back on track

The fact that Billy Celeski is able to partake in a training session just seven months after undergoing a knee reconstruction is testament to the midfielder's mental fortitude and the abilities of Melbourne's strength and conditioning staff.

The fact that Billy Celeski is able to partake in a training session just seven months after undergoing a knee reconstruction is testament to the midfielder's mental fortitude and the abilities of Melbourne's strength and conditioning staff.

When Celeski crashed to the turf clutching his knee early in the Round 5 match against Newcastle it was clear that his season was over and his promising career had hit another speed hump.

But for the 24-year-old, it was a case of taking his medicine (literally) and relying on the staff at Melbourne to get him back to fitness. The comeback took a massive step on Wednesday when he stepped out for his first full training session.

"I think a soon as I had the op, it became a little bit easier, then it was just getting back into recovery. I felt a bit more like an athlete after that after sitting around and doing nothing," he said.

"It's been a really long process, but just getting over the little hurdles, day by day, week in, week out, and then getting and training on the pitch and doing some football related stuff it's come a long way in the last four months."

Celeski had prospered in his first 18 months at Melbourne and had come into Qantas Socceroos calculations after an impressive performance at the 2008 Olympics. Re-invented as a defensive midfielder, he was finally reaching the potential that he had shown since his days at the AIS.

But while fate dealt him a cruel blow in that match at Etihad Stadium, he returns to the game with a renewed hunger after his unplanned hiatus.

"I looked at it in two ways. Where it was a big setback for me. 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," he said.

Celeski said he owes a lot to Adam Basil, Melbourne's strength and conditioning coach as well as physiotherapists Daniel Jones and Sam Bugeja.

"All credit to those boys, they've been fantastic for me," he said. "I've been working really close with Adam Basil, the strength coach. I've been going about four months now. It-s come on pretty quick."

Recovering from the knee injury has been only one aspect of Celeski's rehabilitation. His left leg has suffered for being protected over the past seven months and a lot of the focus in recent weeks has been on regaining strength in that area.

"I've lost quite a bit of muscle on my left leg, my quad, my calf, the hammy's taking the longest, because they took the graft out of that. But all the work I've been doing with Bas, and the nutrition, the protein and stuff. You need to be really disciplined and it's paid off, all the hard work."

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.