Elliot Minchella hopes to return for Hull KR in February for their Super League opener against Wigan, after a long recovery from a knee injury.
Minchella, 25, was set to play a key role in Tony Smith’s plans last season but an anterior cruciate ligament injury ended his season in round two.
The back-rower has spent the last eight months rehabilitating from the injury, and is targeting a 2022 comeback.
“Everything is going well, touch wood,” Minchella told BBC Radio Humberside.
“I should be back in full training in about two weeks so there’s not really a lot I can’t do in terms of training wise.
“It’s fallen pretty well, I should be fine for round one and that’s what I’m aiming for.”
The former Leeds and Sheffield player says he and the physio staff have considered the possibility of returning in the pre-season friendlies, but that a “play-it-by-ear” approach is needed.
Minchella’s absence meant he missed not only Rovers’ thrilling run to the Super League play-offs in 2021, but also the return of crowds – in particular to Hull College Craven Park.
His last taste of the matchday atmosphere as a player was in early 2020 when the Robins played Leigh in a Challenge Cup tie, and it will be just under two years since he experienced the buzz of a crowd should he run out against Wigan on that opening weekend.
“I can’t wait to play again at home in front of fans,” he said.
“It was good I suppose seeing how well we were going last year and how much the fans got behind us.
“We were on a roll and we’re looking to pick up where we left off going into the new year.”