NEWPORT Gwent Dragons’ potential hooker crisis looks to have been averted with the region hopeful both Steve Jones and Hugh Gustafson will be fit for Saturday’s Munster showdown.

The pair picked up injuries in last weekend’s bitterly disappointing 16-5 big derby defeat to fierce rivals Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade.

Jones left the field with a calf injury after 52 minutes to be replaced by converted hooker Gustafson, the former loosehead prop then going on to hurt his ankle.

Their injuries had raised the spectre of the Dragons being down to just one fit hooker in Sam Parry. But the initial prognosis is understood to be good and the duo were yesterday in contention for the weekend’s away clash at Limerick’s famous Thomond Park.

A further assessment of their fitness is being carried out today.

Another boost for the Dragons is that the forecast for centre Andy Tuilagi is similar after he hurt his calf in the loss to the Blues four days ago.

The Samoa international didn’t return to the field after the interval but had an excellent first 40 minutes, causing panic in the visitors’ defence with his direct running.

If he is passed fit, his experience will be invaluable in Saturday night’s cauldron.

Meanwhile, the news about the other four Dragons on the casualty list is not quite so good.

South Africa international wing Tonderai Chavhanga is still not match fit but was back in contract training on Monday after he hurt his knee in the 31-12 defeat to the Ospreys in Swansea back in May.

Last season’s Argus player of the year Robert Sidoli will also not be in contention for Munster, the 33-year-old 2005 Grand Slam-winning second row is still recovering from a calf injury.

And ongoing injuries to scrum halves Wayne Evans (back) and Joe Bedford (shoulder) mean that promising young No 9 Jonathan Evans is set for more vital big match experience against the 2006 and 2008 Heineken Cup champions.

After Saturday’s defeat and the previous weekend’s 45-25 setback against Leinster in Dublin, to go with their 37-6 opening day victory over Zebre, the Dragons have a tough task ahead of them this weekend.

Munster have started the season well with a 23-18 away win at Edinburgh and a 19-6 home victory over Benetton Treviso before being pipped 20-19 against Ulster at Ravenhill on Friday night to sit fourth in the PRO12.

The Dragons have only won once away at Munster in their history, that was a 16-6 victory at Limerick under coach Mike Ruddock during their inaugural season of 2004.

The only survivor from that victory still playing with the Dragons is 35-year-old hooker Jones who played in a team that included South Africa stars Percy Montgomery and Bobby Skinstad.