PROP Greg Bateman could be back to boost the Dragons’ bid for Champions Cup qualification when they return to Guinness PRO14 action in February.

The Rodney Parade region have two weekends without fixtures after the postponement of their Champions Cup encounters with Bordeaux-Begles and Wasps.

There have been some suggestions that the PRO14 could rejig their schedule but the Dragons were always keen to stick with their plan.

They host Connacht on Friday, February 5 and Edinburgh on Friday, February 12 (both 7.45pm kick-offs) in games that were postponed in the autumn because of their coronavirus outbreak.

Sticking with that calendar will allow them to be boosted by the return of influential fly-half Sam Davies, who has missed the last four games with a calf injury.

South Wales Argus: COMEBACK: Sam Davies hasn't played for the Dragons since the loss to WaspsCOMEBACK: Sam Davies hasn't played for the Dragons since the loss to Wasps

They could also welcome back livewire full-back Jordan Williams, who has been carefully managed back after ruptured knee ligaments were followed by a hamstring strain, and prop Bateman is also on the comeback trail.

The 31-year-old Welsh-qualified loosehead, who can also shift across to tighthead, signed from Leicester in the summer.

Bateman made his debut as a replacement against Zebre in round two and then suffered a hamstring tear on his first start against Ulster.

His return would be a significant boost for director of rugby Dean Ryan, who has had to place a heavy workload on stalwart South African prop Brok Harris.

Lock Joe Maksymiw, who impressed against Bordeaux-Begles’ heavy pack, could also be in the mix after a head injury that led him to miss the derby period.

The Dragons will need good fortune with injury if they are to challenge for qualification for the 2021/22 Champions Cup.

They are back in Europe’s top tier because it has been expanded to 24 teams because of the coronavirus pandemic but they will need to finish in the top three of Conference A to guarantee Champions Cup rugby rather than a return to the Challenge Cup.

Defeat to the Ospreys last weekend has allowed the men from the Liberty Stadium to open up an eight-point gap, albeit after playing a game more.

The Dragons will play their rearranged fixtures and then face five more games against Conference A rivals Leinster, Zebre, the Ospreys, Ulster and Glasgow.

South Wales Argus:

“The Ospreys game was a pivotal moment and now we have got to work a bit harder,” said Ryan.

“Zebre won at the weekend as well, so that puts pressure on if the EPCR decision is to take it to eight qualifiers [from the PRO14, four from each conference].

“We did miss an opportunity against the Ospreys, we are very aware of that. Sometimes we get sucked into the three weeks being just about derbies but they are PRO14 games.

“We missed a chance to take a step closer towards playing Champions Cup next year. Now we will have to fight even harder in the games that we have got left.”

The remaining PRO14 fixtures will be announced once broadcasters have agreed on slots.

The current plan is for them to start on the weekend of February 20 and run through to March 20, with the two conference leaders meeting in the final the following week.

The hope is that teams will then play in the Rainbow Cup against the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers from South Africa.

However, the format of that tournament, which is meant to start on April 17, depends on coronavirus restrictions.