SPEEDSTER Ashton Hewitt’s brief spell with the Wales squad will have given him the belief to push for a return in World Cup year, according to his Dragons boss Bernard Jackman.

The uncapped winger was called up for the summer tour by Warren Gatland but a shoulder injury suffered in training scuppered his hopes of an international bow against South Africa or Argentina.

The 23-year-old from Newport underwent surgery on Friday and is now expected to be out for four months.

That means he will join back row forward Ollie Griffiths, who had a post-season operation on a long-standing hip issue, and centre Tyler Morgan, who had surgery on a fractured foot in February, in missing the opening weeks of 2018/19.

It was a second international blow for Hewitt after a concussion forced him to withdraw from the 2017 Six Nations squad.

However, his club head coach Jackman is backing the livewire runner to push for a return to the Test squad next season, boosted by the knowledge that he is rated highly by the Wales management.

“It was a big blow for Ashton but the call-up did reinforce that he’s not far away,” said the former Ireland hooker.

“Being picked for the tour gives him the security that he is still on the radar.

“We will give him really good medical care and, although it’s a long-term injury, if you are going to get injured then the end of the season is probably good timing and he won’t miss a huge amount of games.

“We’ve got to make sure we help him over the summer and support him in rugby and non-rugby terms, but he is mentally strong and I am sure he will see this as reinforcing the fact that if he gets fit and plays a batch of games then he is close to getting that cap.

“He beat more defenders than any of our players last season and while he may not have scored as many tries or had the big moments as he had before the concussion [in 2017], he was very dangerous.

“Speaking to opposition coaches, Ashton is one guy that they mention every week as being a dangerman for us.”

Hewitt will be joined in Newport by twice-capped Wales wing Dafydd Howells, who arrives from the Ospreys, and elusive utility back Jordan Williams, a Wales tourist in 2014 who has signed from Bristol.

The Dragons return for pre-season training this week for a block of gym and skills work.

They are without Wales tourists Cory Hill, Elliot Dee, Ross Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright and Hallam Amos plus their seven-strong World Rugby U20 Championship contingent.

Hooker Richard Hibbard has an extended break after his season with Gloucester went on longer than the Rodney Parade region’s.

A number of players who were injured at the end of last campaign, including influential prop Brok Harris and fly-half Gavin Henson, are aiming for a return for the second block of pre-season training in July.

Things ramp up in August with the first friendly against Ealing at Bedwas on Saturday, August 11 before encounters with Premiership sides Northampton at Rodney Parade and Gloucester at Kingsholm.