Jake Connor is expected to be the final Huddersfield Giants player to return to full-time pre-season training.
But Huddersfield head coach Paul Anderson still hopes to see the 21-year-old back with the full squad before Christmas.
The utility back underwent surgery on a knee problem two weeks ago and is expected to spend the next month in rehabilitation – due to reasons that were totally beyond his control.
“You’ve got to feel for Jake with the ways things panned out towards the end of last season,” said Anderson.
“He picked up his knee injury playing on dual-registration with Oldham with a couple of months of the season still to play and, ideally, he should have had the surgery then.
“But with Brett Ferres injured and Joe Wardle having to move into the back-row, we needed the medical staff to patch Jake up so he could take Joe’s place in the centre.
“It was then the intention to get Jake in for surgery as soon as our season was over, but he suffered a nasty cut on the knee in the semi-final loss at Wigan and the surgeon said he wouldn’t do the surgery until it was fully healed.
“That delayed the process by a number of weeks, and that’s why we won’t see Jake with the full squad for at least another month. It looks like he’ll be behind the England boys and our new overseas signings.
“We’re just hoping the extra time away will help really freshen Jake up for when he’s back with us,”