JACOB FAIRBANK could force his way into Huddersfield Giants’ Super League contention sooner than originally anticipated.

The 22-year-old former Academy forward, known as Bob, was forced to undergo major shoulder surgery at the end of the season to repair a long-standing problem.

It was initially feared the operation would result in him missing all of pre-season training for the 2013 campaign.

But head coach Paul Anderson has confirmed he’s well ahead of schedule and may be available for the start of Super League XVIII.

That would give Fairbank the chance to build on last season’s positive opening when he featured in five of his side’s first six games as the Giants stormed to the top of the table – although with others also recovering well from post-season surgery, Anderson knows early-season selection can’t be taken for granted.

“The news on Bob is very positive,” said Anderson, who’s also delighted with the way the likes of Eorl Crabtree (shoulder and elbow), Jermaine McGillvary (ankle), Aaron Murphy (ankle) and Luke O’Donnell (shoulder) are recovering from their surgery.

“The original thought was that it would be after Christmas before he’d be back with the full squad.

“If that had been the case then he’d have been behind everyone and struggling to force his way into the side for the start of the season.

“But he should now be back with the full squad by mid-December, which means he’ll have the chance to put in some quality work with us.

“Even if he proves he’s fully fit and available for our first game at St Helens (Saturday, February 2), that obviously doesn’t guarantee him anything.

“Trying to get picked is when the hard work really starts!”