WALES hooker Elliot Dee is on target to boost the Dragons’ bid for a winning start to their European Challenge Cup campaign this weekend.

The Rodney Parade club host Oyonnax on Saturday (kick-off 8pm) and the World Cup front rower is poised to return from a rib injury.

Dee came off the bench in the home United Rugby Championship victory against the Ospreys but the 46-times capped forward suffered a blow that ruled him out of the tour to South Africa to face the Sharks and Lions.

The 29-year-old from Newbridge stayed in Wales to rehab his injury and has been given the green light to face the Frenchmen.

Head coach Dai Flanagan must now decide whether to give Bradley Roberts a breather, with James Benjamin and Brodie Coghlan to other options at the heart of the front row.

Dee will add some Test experience to the Dragons pack against hefty Top 14 opposition but the fixture has come too soon for tighthead Leon Brown and blindside Dan Lydiate.

Brown has made just one appearance this season as a replacement against Cardiff and has been sidelined by a calf injury.

South Wales Argus: SIDELINED: Dan Lydiate is on the comeback trail after a rib injurySIDELINED: Dan Lydiate is on the comeback trail after a rib injury (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Lydiate returned to the Dragons this summer after being released by the Ospreys due to cost-cutting and he started against Leinster after returning from World Cup duty.

However, he suffered a rib injury against the Irish province and it is hoped he will be ready for the festive derbies against Cardiff on Boxing Day in the capital and the Scarlets on New Year’s Day in Newport.

Flanagan also suggested that he will hold explosive back rower Ollie Griffiths back for those Welsh encounters after a minor pectoral muscle injury against the Sharks.

The Dragons could well be spoilt for choice for the festive derbies, raising the possibility of six forwards on the bench to accommodate their back-row talent.

Taine Basham serves the final game of his three-match suspension for a red card against Leinster this weekend and the Wales international will be back in the mix for the trip to Pau a week on Saturday.

World Cup star Aaron Wainwright and stalwart Harri Keddie are likely to start against Oyonnax with lock/flankers Sean Lonsdale, George Nott and Ryan Woodman the other options along with up-and-coming flanker George Young.

With Oyonnax likely to be concentrating on top-flight survival, the opener is realistically a must-win fixture for a Dragons side who have enjoyed success just once this season and lost heavily to the Sharks and Lions.

They beat Pau at the Stade de Hameau last season but the French side sit fourth in the Top 14 and are a much stronger side this year.

Flanagan’s side travel to Zebre Parma and host the Sharks in January with the top four of the six-strong group, which also features the Cheetahs, progressing to the last 16.