DEAN Ryan will give his Six Nations hopefuls a chance to make a late impression when the Dragons head to Benetton after a month on the sidelines because of coronavirus.

The Rodney Parade side take to the field in Treviso tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 3.15pm) in the European Challenge Cup.

It is their first game since the December 17 loss to Lyon in the tournament after their festive schedule in the United Rugby Championship was wiped out.

The Ospreys were forced to postpone the Boxing Day clash in Swansea because of an outbreak but then issues in the Dragons' camp led to the meetings with Cardiff and the Scarlets being delayed until later in the campaign.

Front row problems led to last Saturday's trip to Llanelli being postponed but Ryan has a stronger squad to pick from for the must-win clash with Benetton.

He is still without scrum-half Rhodri Williams and Wales flanker Ross Moriarty, who are both close to returning to full training, but a raft of international players are set to be named in the matchday 23 at midday.

It is a last chance for them to stake a claim for spots in Wayne Pivac's squad for the Six Nations, which is named on Tuesday.

Hooker Elliot Dee, locks Will Rowlands and Ben Carter and back row forwards Aaron Wainwright and Taine Basham featured in the autumn internationals.

Tighthead Leon Brown is fit again after a nerve issue led to him being sidelined until November while wing/full-back Jonah Holmes was a surprise omission from Pivac's squad for the Tests against New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Australia.

"We want to get our players back into the rhythm of playing and, for those that are in the national selectors' eyes, hopefully give them a chance to make a statement," said director of rugby Ryan.

"We've still got some challenges but we're desperate to play. The last few weeks has been difficult, not only from the well-publicised challenges with Covid but motivation.

"Credit to the players, their energy and enthusiasm has been maintained throughout. We are just desperate to play and get on with it.

"We want to play and see where we are – it's much easier to have conversations that support development when you have played.

"This is a unique period, we don't play next week, then we play again and then we sit down for three weeks. That is a new challenge for us because people go off and play for Wales."

The Dragons' next two games are against Benetton with the Italians heading to Rodney Parade in the URC on Friday, January 28 the week before the Six Nations.

The national team named a 33-strong squad for the tournament on Thursday with 23 of the players plying their trade in Treviso.

"There will be two very different sides for the fixtures because of the Six Nations," said Ryan, who will also lose influential internationals. "Benetton will be physical with a big set piece."