DEAN Ryan insists he won’t rush Richard Hibbard’s return to action for the Dragons, despite the hooker being “desperate to play”.

Speaking after last Saturday’s 13-10 defeat of the Cheetahs, Rodney Parade boss Ryan said he hoped Hibbard would be fit to face Benetton at home this Friday.

However, when addressing the media today, Ryan said he will not risk the experienced Hibbard against the Italians in the rearranged Guinness PRO14 match (kick-off 7.35pm).

Hibbard has not featured for the region since the 25-18 victory over the Ospreys on January 4 after suffering a neck injury.

“I think I’ll keep him rested a bit longer,” he said.

“I’ve got an agreement with him – he’s going to go really well at the end of the season.

“I think Hibbz could probably do with a couple more weeks, and then we’ll get the best out of him towards the end of the season.

“What I don’t want to do is rush it and then we are compromised at the tail-end of the season with a lot of games to go.

"I’ll make a conservative decision around Hibbz.

“I tell him he’s got old man’s neck, but he’s just had some rumbling down a nerve.

“I probably could play him, but I’d rather be conservative and get more out of him towards the end of the season.

“He’s desperate to play and keeps training with us all the time trying to catch my eye.

“If we can wait a couple more weeks, I think we’ll get the best out of him towards the end of the season.

“He’s a huge player for us, he had a huge impact at the beginning of the season, and there’s no point us trying to jump around for the sake of one weekend.”

Ryan has been impressed with Ellis Shipp, the Dragons’ hooker in their last two Guinness PRO14 outings.

While the boss revealed today that the region has been in contact with the Wales camp over the possibility of them releasing Elliot Dee.

Dee has yet to feature in this season’s Six Nations due to rib and calf injuries.

“We’re talking with Wales about whether we can bring Elliot back,” added Ryan.

“We’ll wait and see with that.”

But while Hibbard and Dee are on the mend, the season is over for prop Brok Harris, who requires surgery on a chest muscle injury.

“Brok is going to require surgery on a chest muscle,” said Ryan.

“I think that’s the end of the season for him.”