TIGHTHEAD Lloyd Fairbrother needed the psychological boost of a return to action before the end of the season after a year on the sidelines, believes Dragons boss Dean Ryan.

The 30-year-old Cornishman will make his comeback from a ruptured Achilles when he features off the bench in the United Rugby Championship derby with Cardiff tomorrow.

READ MORE: Dragons v Cardiff team news

Fairbrother hasn’t played since the injury – which is especially problematic for a prop given the pressure going through the foot – against Glasgow at Cardiff City Stadium last May.

The stalwart will get the reward for grafting hard in rehab when he comes off the bench against Cardiff, with a loud reception guaranteed for the popular prop.

South Wales Argus: Dragons prop Lloyd FairbrotherDragons prop Lloyd Fairbrother

“He has been close to a return for a while now and it has been a long haul,” said director of rugby Ryan.

“Lloyd definitely had a target of getting back before the end of the season and it might only be the last week or so but, after that long period of work, it will get him into a full pre-season.

“When you have only got two games it seems like a small target but psychologically it is quite a big target to enable you to go into next year with real energy. We are pleased to see him back.”

While Fairbrother is back for the Cardiff game, wing Ashton Hewitt is yet to return after rupturing knee ligaments 13 months ago.

The 27-year-old travelled to South Africa in March with the squad for the double-header against the Bulls and Sharks to continue his rehab but the speedster faces different challenges.

While the Dragons would love to involve him against the Lions next Saturday, they don’t want to jeopardise the hard work to get to this point.

“Ashton moves a bit faster than Lloyd, with all due respect! That is part of the balancing act of risk with him,” said Ryan.

“He is definitely very close but there is a different discussion with Ashton about whether or not he is available next week.”