DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan has called on fit-again Elliot Dee to get more physical to win the Wales starting spot from Lions hooker Ken Owens.

The 27-year-old from Newbridge is poised to return from a calf injury against Leinster in the United Rugby Championship on Sunday.

He did not feature in pre-season and sat out the opening weekend loss to the Ospreys when Ellis Shipp started and Richard Hibbard came off the bench.

Dee will return to the heart of the front row to face the Irish heavyweights on Sunday (kick-off 2pm) if he can pass some late fitness checks.

The hooker started all three of Wales summer Tests to take his number of caps to 40 and scored his first international try in the win against Canada at Principality Stadium.

Dee enjoyed a run in the 2 jersey while Owens was with the Lions and will hope to put the heat on the stalwart ahead of the autumn series.

Dragons director of rugby Ryan is relishing the return of a key figure but has challenged the front rower to be more explosive.

South Wales Argus: HIT: Elliot Dee in action against Argentina in the summerHIT: Elliot Dee in action against Argentina in the summer

"Elliot can be an enormous influence. The thing that has got him playing international rugby is accuracy,” said the former England forward.

"He has the ability at international level to throw and be competitive at scrum and he has certainly got a mobility game that other hookers lack.

"Sometimes we have challenged Elliot to add more physicality to that game, because we want him to be more consistent at international level.

"A lot of his appearances have been off the bench and to shift somebody like Ken you are going to have to be very physical.

"We are looking forward to him coming back with some momentum to add some stability to that area of the game for us.

"You have got to get the balance because he is probably one of the most mobile hookers around, but that hasn't been able to transfer to international rugby. We want to create a support path that allows him to be more competitive in that area.

“International rugby is slightly different and it's very focused on some of the basics of the game. He needs to prioritise those things to show Wayne that there is something that can be transferred into the international game."

South Wales Argus: INJURED: Wales prop Leon BrownINJURED: Wales prop Leon Brown

Dee is on the brink of a return but the Dragons are still without Wales tighthead Leon Brown, who is struggling after suffering a ‘stinger’ on international duty over the summer.

Ryan was encouraged by the performance in defeat against the Ospreys despite seeing a 16-10 half-time lead turn into a 27-23 defeat.

The management team are unlikely to make many changes for the toughest test in the URC against a Leinster team that drubbed the Lions 31-3 in Dublin.

“We recognise there are some areas that we can tinker with that are competitive but outside of injuries we won't necessarily be creating opportunities just for the sake of it,” said Ryan.