After making her long awaited return from knee surgery against Newcastle on Sunday, Melbourne City captain Steph Catley is back and looking forward to big things in 2019.
Catley represented the Matildas in the October friendlies against France and England before returning home and immediately underwent knee surgery to cure a knee complaint that she had carried for the past four seasons.
Despite persevering with knee pain for such a lengthy period of time, with a World Cup on the horizon, Catley knew it was time to finally get it addressed.
"It's feels like it's been a long time coming. It's been a slow rehab, but it's something I've wanted to do for a long time, [to] get my knee right. It's nice to be out there and pain free. It's not 100% yet, but it still felt great and I was so happy to be out there with the girls," Catley said after her season debut against the Jets.
After eight long weeks of rehab, Catley was itching to get back on the pitch and help her side after City's slow start to the season, however, coach Rado Vidosic is ensuring she takes things slowly as she works her way back to full fitness and limited her game time to 45 minutes against the Jets.
City have a bye this coming weekend, giving Catley an extra week to work on her fitness and she has set her sights on getting through the full 90 minutes against Canberra United.
In her absence, the reigning Champions have struggled, with the win against the Jets just the side's second victory of the campaign, but Catley thinks Sunday's win could prove to be a turning point in her side's quest for four straight championships.
"We usually have a defining moment during the season where we've dropped off and then been able to come back, and that kind of win [against the Jets] really does that for us" she said.
"It gives us a lot of confidence and something to really build off because we've had a couple of not so good games, but we've learned a lot from them, and obviously we're getting our players back now and that feels good too."
View this post on Instagram
While trying to focus on her long awaited return from injury, Catley couldn't help but be distracted by the Women's World Cup draw which took place on Sunday morning.
The draw pits the Matildas against our old foes from Brazil, as well as Italy and relative unknowns Jamaica, and Catley believes the draw leaves the Matildas in an excellent position to go for glory in France.
"I think it's a good draw for us. I think every team within the top 50 has come a long way and I think the World Cup is going to be the best one we've seen yet."
"It's a good draw, but there are no easy games. On any given day, the teams now have enough structure and enough technical ability to get a win, so it'll be a very big test for us, but I think we're definitely ready for it".
With the Matildas star now enjoying a new lease of life without the pain in her knee, Catley and her City side are gunning for another successful season in the W-League before she focuses her attention on Football's biggest prize in June.