Clare Hunt will return to Canberra United this summer, two-and-a-half years after rupturing an ACL during her maiden stint with the club.
After enduring surgeries on both knees since, the 21-year-old has finally been medically cleared and will link up with Vicki Linton's new squad in the capital next month. She'll be joined by fellow defender and young Matilda Jessika Nash, who was also unveiled this week.
For Hunt returning to Canberra marks the start of a new chapter in her soccer career, which was put on a lengthy hiatus after her initial injury. Reconstructive surgery followed before doctors discovered a lesion in her other knee, which led to three more operations after ongoing complications.
"They found an osteochondral lesion in my other knee which required screws to be put in," Hunt said.
"There were a few mishaps with that surgery where screws were coming out and taking up cartilage. I had a total of three surgeries on that knee and that's why it took about two and a half years to come back.
"It's been good to come back and know that there's no screws in there and I'm feeling fully fit again."
Surgeons removed the damaged cartilage in Hunt's knee, before affecting a microfracture at the top of her tibia. Purposefully causing a small fracture encourages blood flow to the area, and stimulates fibrocartilage to regrow.
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"I knew that I was capable of coming back, it was just a matter of taking my time and doing things right, just making sure I could get back to where I am now," Hunt said.
"That's almost completely healed. It was what it was, and I think I've just moved on from it and ready to just get playing again."
Hunt hails from Grenfell near Cowra, and is the younger sister of former Queanbeyan batsman Henry Hunt who now plies his trade at Sheffield Shield level for South Australia.