FORMER Wales winger Dafydd Howells is poised to give the Dragons a welcome boost with a rapid return from a serious injury.

The Rodney Parade region have been down to the bare bones after a glut of injuries to their senior speedsters.

Boss Dean Ryan was left without Jordan Williams (knee), Will Talbot-Davies (wrist), Ashton Hewitt (calf), Owen Jenkins (ankle) and Howells (elbow) for last weekend's European Challenge Cup clash against Enisei-STM.

That led to 21-year-old Carwyn Penny making his first regional start at full-back with 20-year-old Rio Dyer and 22-year-old Jared Rosser on the flanks.

Things got even worse when wingers Dyer and Rosser were forced off with shoulder and eye injuries respectively, forcing the Dragons into fielding scrum-half Luke Baldwin and fly-half Jacob Botica in their back three in the second half.

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However, Howells is set to give Ryan a huge lift by returning well ahead of schedule from an injury that left his boss fearing the worst.

The 24-year-old suffered a dislocated right elbow in the Guinness PRO14 defeat to Zebre in November and was given oxygen as he was helped from the field.

"Daf has suffered a serious dislocation of the elbow," said director of rugby Ryan the following week. "There is ligament damage and it was a very, very painful injury.

"It is disappointing because he was starting to put some pressure on playing more regularly. He will be out for a long time."

But the Wales international, who won two caps on the 2013 tour to Japan, is back in training and eyeing a return when the PRO14 resumes next month.

The Dragons play three fixtures during the Six Nations – Benetton and the Cheetahs in Newport either side of a trip to Glasgow – and Howells will be desperate to impress.

The winger is out of contract this summer and injuries have limited him to just 16 games since heading east from the Ospreys in the summer of 2018.

Hewitt should be in contention for the Benetton game on February 15 while Jenkins, who has impressed since heading to Rodney Parade from Wales Sevens, is likely to be in the mix for that block of fixtures.

The Dragons are on a week off and will assess the injuries to Dyer, Rosser and centre Tyler Morgan, who injured his left hamstring when scoring a try, on their return to training in Ystrad Mynach.