ALEX Johnson is on the verge of the AFL’s most remarkable comeback after five knee reconstructions in the past four years.
Sydney football boss Tom Harley yesterday confirmed the versatile defender completed full training yesterday for the first time this year.
And it is understood he is as few as four weeks away from a NEAFL return that seemed impossible so many times.
Harley told the Herald Sun Johnson had been inspired by his friend Daniel Menzel’s return after four knee reconstructions.
He is likely to act as a runner in the NEAFL in coming weeks as he builds strength in his legs to ward against soft-tissue injuries.
But after his most recent surgery was a success — using Menzel’s surgeon Julian Feller — anticipation is building about an inspirational comeback.
It comes as the Swans prepare for the returns of Kurt Tippett, Isaac Heeney, Jarrad McVeigh and possibly Gary Rohan against Greater Western Sydney.
The 0-4 Swans believe they can put together a winning streak to save their season and are weighing how many of that quartet to include.
Harley said yesterday Menzel’s return had acted as a way forward for Johnson.
“He has just done a full training session today and he has got his quad strength back and we are just looking at strengthening a lot of dormant muscles he hasn’t used for five years,’’ he said.
“He hasn’t got to this stage for a while so that’s a positive. He is itching to get back out there.
“The fact he is with the main group is a huge positive and he looks 4-6 weeks away and then he will return to play. We fully expect him to play.
“When we mapped out what his return to play might look like we talked about the end of May but now he’s back in full training we can be more specific.
“He has seen Menzel do this and they have shared their journey together so he can only take inspiration from that. They are very similar rehabs. He has got a road map to follow.”
— shaun phillips (@shaunpatrickp) May 26, 2016
Johnson played every game as an emerging star defender in the 2012 premiership year before tearing his knee in the 2013 NAB Cup.
When it went on him again he underwent a LARS surgery later in 2013, before tearing it again in the Sydney reserves in 2014.
In 2015 infection attacked his ligament, with surgeons removing it before a final surgery in May 2016.
It took him 900 days to return to running laps, with Sydney’s entire team coming in on a day off to watch him complete that first lap over summer.
He said last year Menzel, in white-hot form for the Cats, had proved he could return to football.
“When I hear people say no one’s ever made it back from five knee reconstructions, I understand that’s a fact, but I guarantee a lot of people would have been saying that to Menzel as well,” said Johnson, who’s been inspired by the counsel and comeback of Menzel, a veteran of four recos,’’ he said.
“There is an element of stubbornness of me saying, ‘I’m going to prove wrong anyone who’s ever doubted me’.
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■ Daniel Menzel returned from four knee reconstructions to kick 33 goals last year as a clever marking forward
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■ David Schwarz recovered from three heartbreaking knee reconstructions in 1997 to win a best-and-fairest with Melbourne in 1999
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Originally published as Forgotten Swan set for inspiring return
SOURCE: newsnow sport