ASHTON Hewitt won’t be rushed back for the Guinness PRO14 run-in but the Dragons are hopeful that the winger, whose contract is expiring, hasn’t played his last game for the region.

The 24-year-old from Newport has not featured this season after suffering a shoulder injury when training with Wales ahead of their summer tour last year.

Hewitt had an operation after that blow and went under the knife again in November.

The speedster received good news from a specialist this week and can step up his comeback, although the end of the campaign against the Scarlets at Principality Stadium on Saturday, April 27 may come too soon.

That runs the risk of Hewitt having played his last game for the Dragons as he is out of contract this summer and is on the radar of Welsh rivals as well as clubs over the border.

The four regions are currently unable to sort out fresh terms with players whose deals are expiring because they are waiting for Project Reset, their agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union, to be signed off.

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But livewire Hewitt, with 21 tries in 72 appearances, is an influential figure that the Dragons want to keep.

“He is a lad who has come through the system, he is a boy from Newport and he wants to play for the Dragons, which is really important,” said attack coach Barry Maddocks.

“He has improved an immense amount over the last 15 months, growing in his leadership and understanding of the game.

“We have missed him this year with his influence in training as much as what he does on the pitch.

“We would like to keep him because it’s important for the identity of the region that we keep boys who have come through the system.”

South Wales Argus: KEY FIGURE: Ashton Hewitt is a big influence in the Dragons squadKEY FIGURE: Ashton Hewitt is a big influence in the Dragons squad

Maddocks emphasised that the Dragons will take no risks with rushing back the elusive back this season.

“I’d never say never, but what is important is that we make sure he is right and he has missed a whole block of the season,” said the assistant coach.

“He always keeps himself fit and is sharp from doing a lot of rehab. All year he has been really upbeat and positive, and it is brilliant to see him in that manner because he adds a lot to the group.

“We will see how it goes but there is no guarantee that he will play this season, we will get him right for next season if he doesn’t quite make it.

“The priority is to make sure he is ready to go (next year) rather than to force him for one or two games.

“Hopefully he will have a good pre-season block and starts the season really well for us.”

The Dragons return to action in the PRO14 at Edinburgh on Friday and are waiting for news from the Wales management about the availability of Hallam Amos.

The wing/full-back came off the bench in the Six Nations win against Italy in Rome on Saturday and it is a rest week for the tournament.

“It will be a last minute thing if he is available,” said Maddocks. “We have made contingencies because he is a quality player that we want to get involved if we can.”

The Edinburgh game has come too soon for Wales tighthead Leon Brown, who is on the comeback trail from a broken thumb suffered against Leinster at the start of December.

The prop, who is in the Six Nations squad, has been taking part in running, skills and weights but does not yet have the grip strength required for a return to action.