"He's been close (to returning) on a couple of occasions," Hughes told the Lancashire Telegraph. "He's back working hard and he's trying to get back on the field for us.
"The little niggles are holding him back somewhat but he's going to pick up little niggles after being out for a year, but he's been looking strong.
"We hope it's not too serious and we hope to get him back soon. He's very, very close and once he does get back he's going to be some physical athlete for us.
"The power is there for everybody to see and the fact that he's been out has enabled him to strengthen in the areas he had weaknesses. And once he gets games under his belt, then he's going to be a real player for us.
"He was a huge player for us when we got to sixth last time and if we can get him back sooner rather than later then his introduction to the team will give us a huge boost."