DANE Chisholm could be back on the field for the Bulls earlier than expected.

The Aussie has been targeting the season-opener at York on February 18 for his return from a serious knee injury.

Yet he is progressing so well that John Kear thinks he could see some game-time in the final friendly against Keighley the week before.

Kear said: "Dane has done really well over the Christmas break. We believe he's got a chance, not just for the York game but there's an outside possibility he'll get a hit-out against Keighley.

"He could get half an hour or 40 minutes there and that would be a big bonus for us."

The Bulls coach knows facing the Cougars would be no gentle warm-up for Chisholm, who has been out of action since the Summer Bash at the end of May. But it would be ideal preparation for what awaits them in League One.

Kear said: "It's a local derby. We've got a bounty on our heads anyway and it will start earlier. That's a good way to get ready for the first (league) game."

The Bulls play their second friendly this coming Sunday when Sheffield Eagles visit Odsal. The wintry conditions will be a factor again, as they were against Halifax on Boxing Day, and Kear will prepare his team for that.

"Your game-plan varies week to week according to the opposition but you've got a skeleton that you stick to," he said.

"During the season, you've got a skeleton that's applicable to February, March and April – a wet weather game-plan – and then a dry one when you get to the summer.

"The forecast at the minute is about rolling your sleeves up and doing the wet weather work.

"We'll have a tough early part of the week in training before we start tapering down and putting some structures into place for the Sheffield game."