Cavallo “extra hungry” to contribute for Reds after injury return

It was a long grind for Josh Cavallo but the versatile midfielder has described his return to the Isuzu UTE A-League on Monday night as “phenomenal”, and he is “extra hungry” to play his part in Adelaide United’s chase for a top-six berth.

It was 323 days between games for Cavallo, who limped off Coopers Stadium after rupturing his Achilles tendon back in February 2023.

Eleven months on, the 24-year-old received a huge cheer from the Adelaide faithful when he took the field as a second half substitute.

“It was absolutely phenomenal,” Cavallo reflected on Tuesday morning.

“It’s great to be back out there on the field and be with my teammates and be out there with the fans and have my family by my side. When that happened, it was a great moment for me.”

Cavallo’s parents had travelled from Melbourne to spend some time with him over the last couple of weeks and it was extra special to have them in the crowd at Coopers to witness his playing return.

The injury came at a point where Cavallo was feeling good in life.

He had just penned a contract extension with the Reds and was much valued for his ability to play at full back, in the centre of midfield or on the wing.

What followed his surgery four days after the injury was a gruelling rehabilitation period which included time in a moon boot and on crutches, then having to learn to walk again.

It was seven months before he could run again.

“For me, it was more shock because I really hadn’t had a serious injury before that so it was kind of like a little bit of a gun sound and then I just felt something’s snapped on my leg so it wasn’t a pleasant moment,” Cavallo reflected.

“It was a hard time for me, being away from the game for so long. It’s such a harsh injury, you know, it wiped 10 and a half months out of my football career for me.

“But, being able to reflect back and to see what I had at Adelaide United, to see what I can keep doing and grow together, individually and as a team was absolutely phenomenal so I’m extra hungry and fiery, to be back now.”

On reflection, Cavallo now sees that he learnt a lot about himself deciding injuries are a part of professional sport.

And, he never doubted he’d play again for Adelaide United given the support he received.

“Adelaide United is my home away from home, obviously, coming here from Melbourne. This has become my new home,” he said.

“This happens in everyone’s career. And unfortunately, Sam Kerr yesterday with her ACL injury, you know, this happens to athletes, and it will happen in people’s careers.

“It’s just the way you reflect on that and bounce back, and you’ll come back.

“I had a great support network around me in Adelaide, the Adelaide United staff and the coaching staff have been phenomenal in guiding me to get me back and better to what I was before. Carl (Veart in particular) just pulling me aside and talking to me and guiding me and giving me that confidence and that belief that when I come back, I can do something for the team.”

And he is determined to build on the seven minutes plus injury time he managed in his return game, starting with Saturday’s Unite Round trip to Sydney to face the Sky Blues.

With the side coming off the back of consecutive draws against Wellington and Macarthur, Cavallo is eager to help the Reds get back on the winners’ list.

“At the end of the day, we want to start winning games now and towards the end of the season, it’s important to be finishing in a good way and finishing in the top six,” he said. “That’s something that we’re more than capable of doing.”