WALES Under 20s star Toby Faletau is set to make his first start for Newport Gwent Dragons in their St Patrick’s night Magners League game against Connacht in Galway tomorrow.

The teenage back row forward played for the young Wales team against Ireland at Athlone on Friday night, but will make a quickfire return to the west of Ireland with the Dragons after being released by the under-20 management.

Dragons coach Paul Turner has included Faletau in a 24-man squad as well as Newport captain and No 8 Andrew Coombs after a spate of serious injuries has decimated their back row.

Joe Bearman was already out with a long-term groin problem, but Lewis Evans and Jamie Harris have both been sidelined, possibly for the rest of the season while Dan Lydiate has not been released by the Wales management ahead of Saturday’s game against Italy.

Faletau has made four appearances as a replacement this season. But the 19-year-old, who plays for Cross Keys in the Welsh Premiership and is the son of former Ebbw Vale and Pontypool lock Kuli Faletau, is now likely to go straight into the team alongside the two fit and available senior back row forwards Gavin Thomas and Grant Webb.

It will be the first involvement for Coombs, who trained with the Dragons yesterday and left for Ireland with the squad early today having got time off work.

“It’s been a difficult weekend for us, but we’ve used our resources within the region and spoken to the under 20s group and got Toby released, he will be a full-time player with us next season,” said Dragons coach Paul Turner.

“It’s also an opportunity for Andrew who has been the form player in the Premiership and has done well in the British and Irish Cup for Newport, a competition which is proving as near to A team rugby as you can get.

“This is stretching our squad resources, but we’ve got to lick our wounds and get on with it. It’s the nature of big games against quality opposition like Munster that you pick these injuries up.”

Two more young players who feature in the squad are prop Aaron Coundley and lock Andrew Brown. With Adam Jones also out for the season because of a thumb injury and Luke Charteris needed by Wales it leaves Rob Sidoli and Hoani MacDonald to fill the lock berths, so Brown, with only one appearance as a replacement to his name for the Dragons this season, is likely to be a replacement along with Coombs.

Fortunately for the Dragons the backs are unaffected by the injury jinx and Turner could well go with the ones who sparkled against Munster, scoring all three tries in a performances which was hailed by a number of ex-internationals in Dublin at the weekend as the best they had seen this season.

Back three Martyn Thomas, Aled Brew and Will Harries, who all scored tries, could start again as will outside half Jason Tovey, fresh from a run of 71 points in four games.

Dragons squad: M Thomas, R Fussell, W Harries, A Brew, T Riley, M Watkins, A Smith, J Tovey, J Arlidge, J Leadbeater, W Evans, B Castle, H Gustafson, P Palmer, A Coundley, T Willis (captain), S Jones, A Brown, R Sidoli, H MacDonald, A Coombs, G Webb, T Faletau, G Thomas.