JAMIE Roberts is back in the mix for the Dragons' knockout European clash with Northampton – giving boss Dean Ryan a tough decision in midfield.

The former Wales and Lions centre missed Sunday's Guinness PRO14 win against Edinburgh after being forced off in the early stages against Glasgow the previous weekend.

The 34-year-old has been a talisman this season after signing in August and his exploits led to national boss Wayne Pivac mulling over a Test recall, only to instead plump for Willis Halaholo.

Roberts has made 15 appearances to earn a fresh one-year contract and the Dragons are confident that he will be fit to line up at 12 against the Saints in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm).

Director of rugby Dean Ryan said last week that they had played it safe with the veteran back for their PRO14 finale.

"Jamie has a dead leg that has probably switched off a bit around his knee, so we decided to go with Jack (Dixon) and get us ready to go. Jamie shouldn't be too long," said Ryan.

Dixon is the like-for-like replacement for Roberts while the management team have a tough decision to make at 13 after the emergence of Aneurin Owen.

The 20-year-old from Newport has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign and has started the last six games.

Aneurin Owen and Jamie Roberts in defence for the Dragons at Zebre

Aneurin Owen and Jamie Roberts in defence for the Dragons at Zebre

The ball-playing centre's form means that on-loan Saracen Nick Tompkins is sweating on a start against the Saints.

The Wales international was released from Six Nations duty to be a replacement against Ulster, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Owen has long been tipped as one to watch by the Dragons academy staff and now, after learning his trade with Ebbw Vale in the Premiership, the former Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw pupil is thriving in senior rugby.

"We knew that Aneurin had a special distribution talent that we wanted in the game, but he needed to know his job," said Ryan about the prospect, who is a former fly-half.

"I think he deserves special credit because if we didn't have such strong competition at 12, he would have played there much earlier.

"But he's adapted to 13 and we've mixed up our attack so different people are on the ball and he's now a consistent member of our 23, which is what the Dragons are about."

Richard Hibbard of Dragons is tackled by Sean Kennedy of Glasgow Warriors

Richard Hibbard of Dragons is tackled by Sean Kennedy of Glasgow Warriors

The Dragons are waiting for an injury assessment on veteran hooker Richard Hibbard after he was forced off in the 12th minute of the win against Edinburgh at Principality Stadium on Sunday.

The 37-year-old former Wales hooker, who has been in fine form and played the full 80 minutes against Glasgow the previous week, suffered a hand injury and was replaced by Wales hooker Elliot Dee.

He hasn't started since the loss to the Scarlets in Llanelli on New Year's Day after playing back-up to Ken Owens in the Six Nations title triumph.

If Hibbard misses out then Rhys Lawrence is set to come onto the bench because Ellis Shipp has been out with a knee injury since the start of the month.

Lawrence returned to the Dragons on a deal until the end of the season in October after being released last summer.

He has made a solitary appearance against Ulster, as a makeshift back rower because of injuries, and was an unused replacement against the Ospreys and Glasgow.