IRREWARRA-BEEAC defender Michael Johnstone is eager to help the Bombers return to the top five after a year on the football sidelines.
Johnstone, 24, missed the entire Colac District Football League season last year after damaging the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the Bombers’ 2010 grand final victory.
He has spent the past 13 months in recovery after undergoing a full knee reconstruction in November and is nearing 100-per-cent fitness, despite minor swelling.
“I’ve done a little bit of running last year for pre-season and it all feels good,” Johnstone said.
“I suppose it’s always in the back of your mind – you don’t want to push it too hard but with every training I’ve been getting a bit more confident,” he said.
“I spent well over 12 months in recovery so I didn’t want to jump straight in, you can only do what your body lets you.”
Johnstone, who works as a painter in Colac, endured months of recovery including swimming, gym sessions at Corio Bay Sports Clinic as well as his duties as Irrewarra-Beeac’s under-17 coach.
“I spent a lot of time in the pool and I was at Corio Bay twice a week for a few months doing mainly leg work,” he said.
“I did a fair bit of running while I was coaching but it’s only this pre-season that I’ve been pushing myself to 90 and 100 per cent.”
Johnstone said watching the Bombers lose their spot in finals for the first time in six years also added to his hunger for returning to the field in 2012.
He will be joined by teammate Brad Gore, who recovering from a broken leg, while defender Jarrod Owen is uncertain about a return after breaking his ankle.
“It wasn’t too much fun, sitting there and watching the boys, it was a hard year because we’d lost a few players and other sides had picked up where we didn’t,” Johnstone said.
“No one likes sitting on the sidelines, but sometimes you’ve got to do it so you can’t complain too much,” he said.