EORL CRABTREE is targeting a return to competitive action before the start of Super League XVII.

The popular Giants prop underwent major shoulder surgery at the end of last season in a bid to be fit for the opening games of the 2012 campaign at Wigan Warriors on Sunday, February 5.

But with the 29-year-old’s operation having gone as well as could have been hoped and his rehabilitation going even better, Crabtree is confident of playing in at least one of the Giants’ pre-season fixtures.

Huddersfield kick off their trial programme with a trip to Castleford Tigers on Friday, January 13, before heading to Wigan six days later for Sean O’Loughlin’s testimonial clash.

The Giants then visit Batley Bulldogs on Sunday, January 22 and then head to Halifax for their Infirmary Cup clash seven days later.

Galpharm chief Brown intends to field his strongest sides for the tests against fellow Super League sides Castleford and Wigan.

But Crabtree has revealed he’d be happy to wait until the later games against Co-operative Championship clubs Batley and Halifax to make his return – if that makes more sense.

“Right now, I’m ahead of schedule, and I obviously hope that continues,” said Crabtree.

“When I first had the surgery, I’d been told I could be back for the start of the season, and I was happy with that.

“But with the way things are going, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be available for the pre-season games, including the one at Cas a week on Friday.

“Obviously, I’ll leave that to the medical staff, because they might feel I’d benefit from getting a couple more weeks of rehab under my belt. It would be pointless bringing me back a week too soon, especially when it’s a pre-season game.

Source: Examiner