DRAGONS duo Harri Keddie and Sam Beard are eyeing comebacks from injury in the upcoming Guinness PRO14 derby tussles.

Back row forward Keddie has been out of action since undergoing shoulder surgery in September, while centre Beard tore a pectoral muscle in the opening

stages of his sole appearance this season in Edinburgh in week two.

The pair are closing in on a return to the fray with the Dragons hosting Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day and the Ospreys on New Year’s Eve, before heading west to face the Scarlets on the first Friday in January.

“Harrison Keddie and Sam Beard are back training but not doing contact, they’ve got some return-to-contact protocols to finalise,” said head coach Bernard Jackman.

“The Blues will be a bit tight and if not the Ospreys then definitely by the first week of January we should have at least one of them back.”

The return of strong running Keddie, a promising blindside/number eight, will be a boost to a back row that is depleted without

Ollie Griffiths (ankle),

Lewis Evans (pectoral muscle), Nic Cudd (knee) and James Thomas (knee).

James Benjamin has shouldered a heavy burden this season, featuring in 14 of 16 games, while 20-year-old blindside Aaron Wainwright has impressed since making his debut at Cardiff Blues in October.

They were joined in the back row in last Friday’s European Challenge Cup loss to Newcastle by Wales sevens international Ben Roach with James Sheekey, who was signed from Cardiff RFC in October, coming off the bench.

The Dragons Premiership Select XV that faced Yorkshire Carnegie in the British & Irish Cup on Saturday featured Robson Blake at number eight alongside highly-rated academy prospects Taine Basham and Lennon Greggains.

The return of Beard would also be a timely boost after the Wales-qualified New Zealander enjoyed a fine 2016/17 at Rodney Parade

after signing from Edinburgh.

The Dragons return to Guinness PRO14 action with their trio of derbies

before a January double-header against Bordeaux-Begles, with no margin for error in the Challenge Cup.

Their 27-25 loss to Newcastle at Rodney Parade means that Jackman’s side are now fighting for second place in Pool One, with a win in France essential if they are to earn an away quarter-final.

“At least we got a point against Newcastle,” said Jackman.

“We’ve been the masters of our own downfall and the best way to react is to go to Bordeaux and win and then beat them here.

“Nineteen points would have a fair chance of getting into the quarter-finals and if we can get to 20 it would be a really good haul.

“We’ve got back-to-back games that we definitely

believe we can get something out of.

“It’s not over yet, but we’ve made things a little bit harder for ourselves.”