THE curtain has now fallen on the 2023 Betfred Super League campaign but Owen Trout is already counting down the days to Leigh’s opening match of next season.

That return to action, Trout hopes, will coincide with his own comeback from an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered playing for Huddersfield against Hull FC last May.

And the former Giant-one of seven signings announced by the Leopards during a hectic few days-believes he’s on track to debut for his new club next February.

The highly rated and versatile former England Academy and England Knights forward will be joined at pre-season by the returning Dan Norman from St Helens, Ben McNamara (Hull FC), Jack Darbyshire (Warrington), Lewis Baxter (St Helens), Louis Brogan (Swinton) and Kavan Rothwell (Wigan).

Dolphins’ Anthony Milford continues to be heavily linked with adding his name to the re-vamped Leigh roster.

For now, Trout, who celebrates his 24th birthday on Sunday, remains the highest profile capture.

“All things being equal it will be February when I am able to play again,” confirmed Trout, younger brother of Keighley’s former Wakefield forward, Kyle Trout.

“If it goes to plan hopefully I can get in a pre-season game as well. If not, it won’t be the end of the world.

“As far as I know, in the next few weeks I should be looking to do my first running session which I am looking forward to.

“It has been frustrating and tough at times and it does get a bit lonely.

“But I try not to dwell on it too much. When you do that you start going into a bit of a hole.”

Before signing, Trout sought advice from Ricky Leutele, another Leigh recruit from Giants and also rehabbing after serious injury.

“Ricky confirmed how close the guys are with each other and as an outsider you can see that,” he explained. “It makes you want to be a part of something like that.

“I want to go to a team where I know the guys at the side of me are going to have my back. So, when I start playing I want them to know they can count on me.”

Trout’s injury temporarily curtailed an upward trajectory career that had been closely monitored by other Super League sides.

And in a week when new team mate Robbie Mulhern was confirmed in Shaun Wane’s 24-man squad for the three Test series with Tonga, Trout hopes his Trans Pennine move can push his own international claims.

“I feel like I am not a million miles away,” he said. “Hopefully, once I get fully fit and playing again, I can get my foot in the door and show I can do a job.”

*Former Leigh and Leeds centre Nene Macdonald has signed a four-year contract with Salford Red Devils.