Zuvela faces hard road with knee injury worse than first feared

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica has urged distraught midfielder Chris Zuvela to focus on the “bigger picture” after it was revealed his season-ending knee injury was much worse than first thought.

Having only just recovered from an ACL tear last year, scans have confirmed that Zuvela suffered the same injury again on his opposite knee in an attempted tackle during Sydney’s 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix on Monday night.

Sydney FC midfielder Chris Zuvela’s knee injury is worse than first feared.Credit:Getty

But the 24-year-old also injured his medial ligament and his patella – a triple blow which has the potential to threaten his A-League career, just as it seemed ready to take off again.

“He’s done it pretty well. He did a bit of everything,” Corica said, confirming the full extent of the injury.

Zuvela, a graduate of the Sky Blues’ academy who has played just 10 league games across nearly four seasons, has been left shattered by the latest setback but teammates and friends were quick to rally around him.

Among them were Corica and teammates Rhyan Grant and Alex Baumjohann, all of whom also suffered two long-term ACL injuries in quick succession but managed to bounce back.

Corica did his at English club Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 1997-98 season, but mounted a successful recovery and played out two further seasons before moving to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Japan.

Grant, meanwhile, rocketed himself into the Socceroos squad upon his return from his second knee reconstruction, which Corica said was the kind of story Zuvela needed to keep front of mind in the coming days, weeks and months as he begins a sadly familiar rehab process.

“That’s what we’re trying to say to him. We’ve all come back from it and continued to play at a very high level,” Corica said.

“I did it straight after each other – my first game back, I did it again. I know exactly what he’s going through. I was about 24 years old, the same age he is now.

“You have to get on with it and look at the bigger picture. It’s a hard road ahead and if you don’t stay positive it’ll be worse. He’s only young. He’ll be back playing by 25. He’s still got a good future ahead of him.

“He’s a nice boy. He works extremely hard and like you saw in that tackle, he gets stuck in. He’s energetic, he brings energy to the team – that’s what I wanted from him when he came on.”

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