DRAGONS boss Bernard Jackman has pledged to pick his strongest side throughout a challenging festive period that pits them against their three Welsh rivals, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Rodney Parade side open up with a Boxing Day clash with Cardiff Blues in Newport (kick-off 2pm) then have a swift turnaround for their home fixture against the Ospreys on New Year's Eve (kick-off 5.35pm).

The Dragons then have a trip west to face Guinness PRO14 champions the Scarlets on Friday, January 5 (kick-off 7.35pm) which is then followed by a crunch double-header with Bordeaux-Begles, with a win in France and then success on home soil needed to make the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.

Jackman is not blessed with the deepest of squads and the management are also denied desired selection headaches by a lengthy injury list, but they won't be tinkering with the side as they did in the opening weeks of the campaign.

“We will reselect the team after the Blues on how we perform as a team and individually,” said Jackman.

“We will play our strongest team in all three games, that may not be the same team, but we will go full strength for all three games.”

The team for the Blues will be named at midday after a team run.

Up front, Sam Hobbs should get the nod at loosehead next to Wales hooker Elliot Dee.

The likely absence of Leon Brown, who suffered a concussion against New Zealand in November, leaves Lloyd Fairbrother as prime tighthead candidate, although a disrupted training week because of paternity leave means on-loan Scarlets prop Nicky Thomas could make a debut.

Captain Cory Hill will start at lock with Joe Davies in pole position to get the start next to him ahead of Rynard Landman.

James Benjamin and Aaron Wainwright have been in fine form in the back row with Ben Roach and James Sheekey battling to join them from the off against their former side.

Teenager Dan Babos has impressed in recent weeks and could get the nod ahead of experienced South African Sarel Pretorius, who is back in the mix after a jaw injury suffered at Leinster in November.

Gavin Henson will start at fly-half with recent recruit Jarryd Sage prepared to make his debut if Jack Dixon doesn’t overcome a groin problem to partner Adam Warren in midfield.

Hallam Amos and Ashton Hewitt are shoo-ins in the back three with a question mark about who will play on the other flank after Jared Rosser was forced off against Newcastle with Pat Howard replacing him.

Possible Dragons XV: H Amos, A Hewitt, A Warren, J Dixon, J Rosser, G Henson, D Babos, S Hobbs, E Dee, L Fairbrother, J Davies, C Hill (captain), A Wainwright, B Roach, J Benjamin.