After a breakout season in the Hyundai A-League, things were looking up.
Joey Champness had scored on debut against the Mariners back in Round 1 of 2017/18, before adding a further four to his tally for a total of five goals and two assists.
Then came the foot injury in mid-August, which turned out to be a fracture, which had kept the young attacker off the training pitch for nearly four months.
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This week though, Champness is back on the park proving that it was just a setback, and now things are looking up once more.
It was only the warm-up and a quick whirl in a shooting drill, but it was the first time he’d had a ball at his feet down at Ray Watt Oval since August.
“It’s looking good and I’m feeling alright. I was involved in shooting properly for the first time today, so it was definitely good to be back,” Champness said on Wednesday.
“Just to be around the squad again, slowly build into training and getting more involved, it’ll just feel better and better.
“I felt sharp, which was good because I haven’t been out there for a while. For me, touching the ball and stuff, it felt good. It’ll build more with training and more time on the pitch.”
Joey has spent a lot of time in the pavilion at the club's training base, Ray Watt Oval, on the bike watching his teammates go through their paces week after week.
Keeping him fit was a dedicated medical team, ensuring Champness was boxing, on the ropes, completing cardio exercises, doing whatever it took to maintain a high level of fitness despite his injury.
Now the youngster has his eyes on a return date.
“We’re looking at around mid-January in terms of a comeback, and we’ve got a bunch of games around there so I’m on track,” Champness said.
“Obviously there’s a process there to follow, but it’s feeling good, there haven’t been any problems so hopefully January.”