Dragons sweat on the fitness of Coombs and Dixon for key Bath clash
LOCK Andrew Coombs and centre Jack Dixon face a race against time to be fit for Newport Gwent Dragons' key Amlin Challenge Cup clash against Bath.
The influential pair will miss Friday's tournament opener against part-timers Mogliano after suffering ankle and foot injuries respectively in last weekend's 30-7 win against Zebre.
Their absence is unlikely to be felt too hard against the Italian minnows – who the Dragons beat 33-0 and 53-3 in last season's competition – but director of rugby Lyn Jones would love to have them available for the clash with pool favourites Bath at the Rec a week on Saturday.
Abrasive six-times capped skipper Coombs has been at the fore in the region's victories this season while Dixon has become a huge figure in midfield despite being just 18, starting all five games and impressing with power in defence and attack.
The injuries are still settling down but the initial estimate is that the pair are out for between one and three weeks.
"It's disappointing but what is important is that they regain full fitness as soon as they can," said Jones.
"They have time to recuperate for other challenges ahead and it's an opportunity for other players to come and show what they can do.
"We can live without them for a week or two and we need to get them right for the challenges that lie ahead."
Coombs' absence will see Matthew Screech paired with Robert Sidoli in the second row backed up by Adam Jones.
Injuries to Dixon, Pat Leach (elbow) and Ashley Smith (hamstring) are likely to lead to Ross Wardle and Adam Hughes continuing the midfield partnership that they formed in the second half against Zebre.
"We have three second rows stepping up this weekend who could play very well, it's then up to Andrew to knuckle down and get his position back," said Jones.
"Ross is getting better every game, he's got loads to learn but is full of enthusiasm – he just wants to kill everybody he comes across!
"I like that in players and will keep on giving him a chance because at the moment he is making himself first choice.
"We've got Lewis returning to full fitness after twisting an ankle in pre-season for Newport and he will be on the bench.
"It's fantastic to have him back because he gives us a good blend with his distribution and kicking game, he offers us something different to what we have in our squad currently."
Dragons squad: D Evans, M Pewtner, W Harries, R Wardle, T Prydie, H Amos, L Robling, A Hughes, J Tovey, K Burton, S Jones, J Evans, R Rees, W Evans, P Price, O Evans, A Coundley, N Williams, H Gustafson, S Parry, D Way, N Buck, F Chaparro, M Screech, A Jones, R Sidoli, J Groves, N Talei, L Evans, N Cudd, T Faletau, I Jones.
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