Hearts and Socceroos full-back Ben Garuccio completing his rehabilitation with strength and conditioning guru Tim Schleiger. Picture: Peter Psarros
Hearts and Socceroos full-back Ben Garuccio completing his rehabilitation with strength and conditioning guru Tim Schleiger. Picture: Peter Psarros

Socceroos hopeful ‘has ability to hurt himself’

SOCCEROOS hopeful Ben Garuccio has been lauded for constantly ''breaking the pain barrier'' as he plots returning to the pitch three months ahead of schedule.

Scotland-based Garuccio, 24, believes his decision to stay in Melbourne an extra month after a serious knee injury will pay off.

The former Melbourne City full back returns to Scotland on Friday after completing a rehabilitation program with Melbourne conditioning guru Tim Schleiger. It involved 15 sessions weekly.

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Garuccio is in such good nick, his surgeon Dr David Young fears that his club, Hearts, may be tempted to rush him into full-scale training when he returns.

Initially ruled out until February, Garuccio's recovery is remarkable considering a bone defect on the lateral side of knee exacerbated the anterior cruciate ligament tear, delaying a running return by a month.

"I feel unbelievable. I didn't expect to be feeling like this at this stage,'' Garuccio said.

"I got the boots on, back on the pitch early, I can do everything without being with the team. It's four months now.

Garuccio tests his knee. Picture: Peter Psarros
Garuccio tests his knee. Picture: Peter Psarros

"I saw my surgeon the other day and he's happy for me to start full training at six months (late September) if I keep progressing.

"That could get me back playing at 7-8 months, which would be great. I put the hard work in early, made sure I stayed on top of it.

"Coming back from an ACL, technique is a big thing with footwork and mine is a lot better now."

Schleiger was blown away by Garuccio's application, after a regimen that included boxing with Sam Soliman's former trainer Christian Ennor to optimise footwork and agility to avoid reinjuring the knee.

Garuccio pushes himself during rehab. Picture: Peter Psarros
Garuccio pushes himself during rehab. Picture: Peter Psarros

"Having worked with so many of the golden generation and many modern young players, he's got the best professionalism and work ethic to his rehab and training since the golden generation of Mark Bresciano, Harry Kewell, Vinnie Grella and even Carl Valeri,'' Schleiger said.

"Ben has a real ability to hurt himself and put himself through the pain barrier.

He did cardio, strength and conditioning, boxing, yoga, pilates, physio, agility, on pitch and sprint training. He averaged 15 sessions a week."

Garuccio impressed in his debut season for Scottish club Hearts. Picture: Getty Images
Garuccio impressed in his debut season for Scottish club Hearts. Picture: Getty Images

Garuccio wants to add to his 25 Hearts games and break into the Socceroos, where he remains uncapped.

"I loved my first season (at Hearts). Socceroos has been on my mind ever since I've been involved in a camp. But I just need to just focus on getting into the Hearts team,'' Garuccio said.

"If I'm playing and at my best I believe I'll be back in with a shot of playing for the Socceroos."