Nathan Konstandopoulos reveals he is ahead of schedule and nearing a return to playing pre-season matches after being sidelined with a serious knee injury since February.
However, more than nine months later, Konstandopoulos has made a rather expeditious recovery, given the severity associated with such an injury.
Konstandopoulos ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during training at the beginning of the year and while it has been a painstaking rehabilitation process, the midfielder has made immense progress.
The 24-year-old revealed he is back in full contact training, and if all goes to plan over the upcoming three weeks, the aim will be to start playing friendly matches next month.
However, Konstandopoulos admitted there is no rush with himself and the medical and coaching staff still preferring to err on the side of caution.
“Everything’s going great at the moment,” he told AUFC Media.
“I’m back in full training, I got some minutes in the internal game the other day which is really exciting.
“So everything’s going on track at the moment we’re just blooding me into training, starting to bring me into some internal games to hopefully start playing games by early December.”
The fact Konstandopoulos is where he currently is, is testament to his incredible worth ethic and determination.
From setting regular targets, to adapting to the fluid situation that is the coronavirus pandemic, Konstandopoulos has been able to remain upbeat.
“I apply myself in everything that I do but it was from literally the day after I had surgery I was doing my exercises religiously every single day up until today,” he stated.
“It’s been a long ride, but I set small goals and when I achieve those small goals I’d set a new goal and it was just a constant process.
“Where even if there were hurdles like COVID or not having a gym or stuff like that, I just tried to adapt and do the best I could.
“So I feel like given the circumstances and everything, I think I absolutely smashed my rehab and hopefully it can continue that way.”
Indeed, returning from a long-term injury can be difficult at the best of times, coupled with the isolation of being away from teammates more than usual.
Compound that with being in the midst of a global pandemic and you could forgive Kondstandopoulos, who has five goals in 62 Reds appearances, for his morale to diminish.
Instead, the dynamic, box-to-box player has maintained an unequivocal level of positivity.
“A lot of people have said to me, ‘oh COVID, couldn’t have got injured at a better time’ it’s easier said than done,” he confessed.
“It’s about how you kind of adapt to the situation, someone else might have saw the situation and gone, ‘oh no gyms are closed, oh no I can’t do this, I can’t do that’.
“But I just kind of flipped it and said you know what, what a fantastic opportunity to get my rehab sorted, fantastic opportunity to move forward in my study too.
“And then like I said before I think the way I stayed positive through it all was just setting little milestones.
“If you look at the grand picture and think, ‘oh gee nine months, oh god there’s so much time’, then you’re just going to get overwhelmed by it.
“So I just set small goals, the first week was get my extension right, and then after that it was get my flection right – bending my knee – and then it was little things like that, start building some quad strength.
“And over time it just accumulated to a point where I’m already five months in, I’m already over halfway (of my recovery).
He added: “A part of me was it sucks being away from the boys, but in the same breath when you’re at training and you’re inside the gym doing your rehab and everyone’s outside training it can be a little deflating.
“So in a way I think it was not too bad none of the boys were training, I could kind of just go to Playford and do my own thing, even when they were in the hub I could see externally the boys were doing well but I was still chugging away at my rehab.
“So I feel like I had a nice balance with everything and I had a good support base.”
Even prior to Konstandopoulos joining in full competitive training, he revealed Head Coach, Carl Veart, had modified sessions to include him in certain drills.
He said the boss has created a great environment and was extremely excited about the prospect of playing for him this A-League 2020/21 season.
“I’m so excited, I’ve seen this nice change throughout the Club, the culture in the team,” he said.
“I’m really excited to be a part of that and I want to be a really strong influencer in that.
“Carl has been great so far even with my rehab, he’s adapted sessions to bring me in when he didn’t have to.
“He’s really made me feel like I’m a strong member of this team and it’s really exciting to work under him.
“The morale is high which is really refreshing and as a player you’d love to work for coaches like that and you’d run through walls for them, so it’s really exciting honestly.”
Konstandopoulos believed the Club has been astute in the signings they have made so far and echoed the sentiments of some of his teammates that their transition has been virtually seamless.
“I think the recruiting has been smart, the way they bring in players that suit the changeroom, because we’ve a very strong environment,” he continued.
“I think they’ve all fit in really well, Joe Caletti is one of my best mates from Brisbane so I was absolute chuffed when he got signed.
“He’s an absolute legend so I was so happy that he was signed, and all the other boys have been great too, they’ve slowly slotted in.
“I think they’re getting used to Adelaide life how it’s a little bit slow, a bit more chill and not much traffic.
“And then football wise, I think they’ve all adapted pretty well and we’ve got good camaraderie in the group.
“I’m excited to see how some of the young ones do like Yaya (Dukuly), he’s got good potential too and I’m excited, all the boys seem really good.”