South Melbourne will be without one of its stars for the first part of the 2015 National Premier League Victoria season, after Mathew Theodore underwent hip surgery during the summer break.
While the operation was considered a success, Theodore won’t begin serious running for the next few weeks, meaning he will miss at least the first month of South’s title defence, which kicks off against rivals Oakleigh Cannons on February 19 at Lakeside Stadium.
The 25 year old bravely carried the injury through the last few games of 2014, as South battled the Cannons at the top of the NPL table.
Despite admitting to being frustrated by the setback, Theodore remains upbeat about a return.
“It has been quite a difficult period since the surgery, as it was a pretty major operation” the midfielder told smfc.com.au.
“Seeing the boys at training and with the season starting soon it is frustrating to not be out there, but I hope to be running soon and back into some meaningful training by the early part of the season”.
Theodore was an integral member of last season’s Championship winning side, scoring six goals from 29 appearances, including a screamer in last year’s season opener against Heidelberg United at Olympic Village.
The diminutive midfielder also had more than 10 assists last season, turning a regular provider for both Golden Boot and Gold Medal winner Milos Lujic and Englishman Jamie Reed who scored a combined total of 37 goals for the season.
Despite the injury, coach Chris Taylor still has plenty of options in the centre of midfield, especially with the arrival of Dane Milovanovic from the Maldives and the likes of David Stirton and Andy Brennan also both being able to play behind the striker. Both Iqi Jawadi and Nick Epifano have also been in impressive form in several pre-season hit-outs to date and can also provide South with extra options in that creative midfield position.
Theodore is one of South’s only fitness concerns in the lead up to the 2015 campaign, with only Steve Hatzikostas who injured his knee in last year’s NPL Finals Match against South Hobart on the sidelines ahead of Round 1.