ASHTON Hewitt is eyeing a return to action early in 2022 for the Dragons as he ramps up his recovery from ruptured knee ligaments.

The winger suffered a serious injury to his left leg when scoring for in the European Challenge Cup defeat to Northampton at Rodney Parade in April.

The 26-year-old from Newport went under the knife and has made good progress in the early stages of his comeback.

"There is sort of a rough guideline in terms of the process of coming back from the injury I had," he said.

"I think return to training might be end of November, December time and then I'll hopefully be back on the pitch in January, so that is what's keeping me going at the moment, driving towards that.

"Supporters can definitely expect to see me this season and I can't wait, last time I played the stadiums were empty.

"I think that is one thing everyone is looking forward to, to be honest, but having fans back coming off the back of an injury will hopefully make that first game a lot better so definitely looking forward to making my return in front of the fans at Rodney Parade."

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Sadly, this isn't the first serious injury that Hewitt has had to recover from but the speedster is pleased to report progress is being made.

"It's going well," he said. "I am about four months post-op now, so I am in a bit of a better place than I was and I am able to do more things now and get some good exercises done.

"I've started doing some leg weights and I am able to ramp that up, so it has been going good.

"It's just about strength now. It's all healed and my catch-up with the surgeon three months post-op was all happy so it's just about pushing it now and trying to get it as equal as possible to my other leg, get it strong so I can prep myself to get running."

Hewitt was in superb form before suffering the injury blow against the Saints and was likely to be a contender for Wales' summer squad and a first cap.

His teammates are back at Ystrad Mynach working towards the United Rugby Championship and the winger wants to ensure they only have three months of action without him.

"It has been tough mentally because you get injured and when I had the op it was in the off-season, so you come back then and you are doing the same stuff every day and see the boys running about, although some of it I am not too envious off I'll be honest!

"When they are throwing the ball about you want to be out there, but you are stuck in the gym and it can get a bit tough. Your days are a bit repetitive so it's not easy at all but hopefully I'm on the right path.

"The boys and the coaches have been really good. I have stayed chatting to the coaches, the boys in the gym have been great, getting in the way of my rehab but I won't complain too much!

"We have our skills as a group between the injured players to do what we can, and I do get to get the ball in my hand a little bit at least.

"The support has been great everyone cares about how I'm doing and how I'm getting on so couldn't ask for much more."

The Dragons get their URC campaign under way on the weekend of September 24 although fixtures are yet to be confirmed due to logistical issues with the South African teams.