I’m ready to rock the joint
Nabbout plans early return
IT was the moment that ended Andrew Nabbout’s World Cup — a shoulder injury he was told would also cruel his dreams of playing in the Asian Cup.
But now the striker who seemed to come from nowhere to lead the line for Australia in Russia has defied the original prognosis to be 2½ months ahead of schedule and ready to play again for his club next weekend.
Picked by Bert van Marwijk at the point of Australia’s attack in the first two of the Socceroos’ games at the World Cup, Nabbout dislo- cated his shoulder for the second time in a matter of weeks in the last of those against Denmark.
Instant medical opinion predicted a rehab period of six months, almost certainly ruling him out of Australia’s defence of the Asian Cup in the UAE in January.
But aided by a surgeon specialising in footballers’ shoulder injuries, Nabbout is back in full training and hopes to be named in Urawa Red Diamonds’ match-day squad this weekend.
It’s reward for slavishly following his rehab program since the operation and means he predicts being “fit and fresh” when the Socceroos’ Asian Cup squad is picked by Graham Arnold in late December.
“If it was up to me, I’d have been back yesterday but the truth is I feel relieved to be in a position to play again so quickly,” Nabbout told The Sunday Telegraph.
“When I did the injury against Denmark, the physios and a few other people told me to expect six months. But when I got back to Australia and spoke to the surgeon, he said he was confident we could do it in 3½ to four months, as he’d had NRL and AFL players return in that time.
“He said that would re- quire me doing my rehab exactly right and I didn’t need to be told twice. It’s been three times a day every day since.
“The difference is huge from when I did my shoulder the first time in early May. Then, I skipped a few steps to be ready for the World Cup — if I’d done it properly there’s no way I would have made it to Russia.”
Arnold has kept in touch with Nabbout during his rehab while Socceroos conditioning coach Andrew Clark visited the forward in Japan last week to do strength testing on his shoulder.
“Pretty much it came up 100 per cent. It’s very strong and very stable,” Nabbout said. “I have no fear. I’ve been back in full contact training and getting a whack on it has been a relief.
“Now it’s about getting back on the park and the rest will take care of itself. Our coach at Urawa has kept an eye on me and pretty much every day has been asking if I’m ready.
“It’s nice to feel wanted, especially as our main striker did his ACL this year and I want to get out there and play my part.
“If I’m selected for the Asian Cup, I think I’ll be fit and fresh with seven or eight games under my belt hopefully.”
Andrew Nabbout dislocates his shoulder at the World Cup against Denmark and (inset)back training in Japan. Picture:Toby Zerna