WALES prop Leon Brown is out of isolation and back training with the Dragons ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Cardiff Blues – but a lack of game time could lead to the tighthead starting on the bench.

The 24-year-old is one of the Dragons’ contingent that were pulled out of the Champions Cup fixture against Wasps on the eve of the game.

A pair of unnamed players tested positive for coronavirus and more members of the squad were identified as coming into close contact with them in training.

Brown, back row forwards Aaron Wainwright and Harrison Keddie, lock Matthew Screech and wing Ashton Hewitt had to sit out the encounter with last season’s English Premiership runners-up and the trip to Bordeaux-Begles.

Tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother was withdrawn against Wasps but featured in France after a review of training footage.

The Cornishman is in pole position to retain the 3 jersey at Rodney Parade on Boxing Day courtesy of Brown’s lack of minutes.

South Wales Argus:

He last started a game against Zebre in October before heading to Wales duty where he suffered a knee injury that limited him to appearances off the bench versus Georgia and Italy.

Brown was pencilled in to back up Fairbrother against Wasps only to be sidelined again through no fault of his own, much to the frustration of director of rugby Dean Ryan.

“Leon needs to play because he is at the stage of his career where gaining experiences are crucial,” said Ryan.

“We've got a situation where he hasn't been able to play through selection, injury or Covid. We keep getting different stutters to being able to get him into a rhythm.

“Some of those guys on the fringes of Wales, playing week in and week out is crucial but that is proving very difficult to achieve.”

Centre Jamie Roberts and wing/full-back Jonah Holmes are back after being rested in Bordeaux but the Dragons are sweating on the availability of fly-half Sam Davies.

The playmaker, hero of last season’s festive wins against the Ospreys and Scarlets in Newport, was a late withdrawal against Bordeaux because of a calf strain.

Wing Jared Rosser (head) and full-back Will Talbot-Davies (knee) came off at the Stade Chaban-Delmas and are being monitored ahead of this weekend’s derby.

The Dragons are also waiting for results of their weekly coronavirus tests, which were carried out on Tuesday. The testing regime has led to a change of schedule for Ryan’s squad.

“We have looked at the front end of our week. We are training so that our close-contacts won't be high,” said the boss.

“Everybody saw [from the Wasps game] the damage that a Friday positive can do because your Thursday session is bound to involve scrum and driving lineout.

“What we are trying to do is remove those elements from the beginning of the week until we have got our test results. It is certainly shaping the way that weeks are running at the moment.”

Last week the Dragons had two more positive tests in the playing staff and another in the staff.