JOHN Kear is tipping Ashley Gibson to be a creative force as the centre looks to kick-start his Bulls career.

Gibson ruptured a bicep in only his second game after signing last summer – and surgery ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Now fully fit, the 31-year-old will be one of the most experienced heads in the Odsal squad.

Kear believes that Gibson, who he was with at Wakefield, can make a significant impact.

The Bradford coach said: "It obviously wasn't a good first half season he had with the Bulls but Ash is a talented player. You only have to look at his record to realise that.

"Ash has played for the England Knights, so the kid can play. We've just got to make sure he's fit, willing and able to play when it comes to mid-February."

Gibson played at left centre in the opening friendly against Halifax on Boxing Day – but Kear wants to have a look at him on the right in Sunday's Odsal clash with Sheffield.

"We just want to make sure which side of the field he is comfortable with and certain players round him to get the best out of him," said Kear.

"He's a creative centre and three-quarter. He's got a lovely little right-hand offload which is why I'm going to sit him on the right side this week to see if he can bring his wingman into play a little bit.

"He's a really good edge defender. He reads the play very well, makes right decisions and that really helps shut opposition players down.

"It's good we're seeing the blend of youth and experience in the squad.

"You need some hunger, youth, enthusiasm and even naivety at times. But you also need that hard-nosed 'been around the block' approach with players who've got miles on the clock."

Kear is hoping good friend Mark Aston names a strong Eagles side as the preparations kick up a gear with the first of three warm-up games in the next 15 days.

"The group have been in pre-season a long time, although I've only been there since mid-December," said Kear.

"They enjoyed playing on Boxing Day and I'm sure they are looking forward to the weekend. I'm really interested to see how we fare against another Championship side.

"I'm hoping Sheffield put out a stronger team than Halifax did so we can get a more accurate gauge into where we are.

"We feel we're progressing well but ultimately the real benchmark is when you're on the field of play against a meaningful opposition."