DRAGONS boss Ceri Jones wants to keep Nic Cudd despite the flanker ruptured knee ligaments just four months before the end of his contract.

The 30-year-old openside faces a battle to play again this year after suffering the injury in training last week.

It is the third time that Cudd has damaged knee ligaments and he will have his left leg reconstructed for the second time after a previous blow when with the Scarlets at the start of his career.

The Dragons will lead his rehab and if the stalwart makes a full recovery then Jones wants to offer him a fresh contract.

None of the regions have yet re-signed players because they are waiting for a fresh agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union, but the caretaker head coach wants Cudd to be part of his plans.

"We are really devastated for Cuddy, for him to pick up such a nasty injury at this time of the year is unfortunate for him," said Jones, who is in charge of retention and recruitment for next season.

"We will fully rehab him, the medical department will do a really good job with that.

"With regards to all contracts, we are still waiting on things above to move things on. We are almost there, I believe, and I don't think it will be long until the WRU contract is done and then we can start moving on signing people.

"We are looking to retain key personnel in our squad and Nic could certainly be one of those.

"Cuddy has done this injury before and come back stronger than ever. We all know what a good professional he is and what he has done for the region, so I would certainly like to do something for Cuddy going forward."

South Wales Argus:

The flanker's tally of 130 appearances puts him third on the Dragons' list of back row forwards and Cudd has shown total commitment since heading east from Llanelli in 2012.

"If you look his last performance (against Munster) there was a picture of him with blood absolutely pouring out of his head. He went off, taped it up and was back on the field doing the business," said Jones.

"He is one of the most committed players that I have ever seen. Everything being well he is somebody that we would like to keep."

The Dragons attempt to end their 40-game losing streak on the road in the Guinness PRO14 when they travel to play-off hopefuls Benetton on Saturday, the scene of their last triumph in March, 2015.

In the absence of Cudd plus Wales back rowers Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty, Taine Basham is set to feature at the Stadio Monigo rather than facing England in the Under-20s Six Nations.

The 19-year-old from Talywain, who scored a hat-trick for the Wales youngsters in Italy a fortnight ago, came off the bench in last week's 34-17 defeat to Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

The Dragons have no fresh injury worries with centre Jarryd Sage fit after limping off in the second half in Scotland.