WALES hooker Elliot Dee is free to lead the charge when the Dragons attempt to end 2017 on a high after facing no punishment following a charge of unsportsmanlike conduct.

The 23-year-old from Newbridge faced a Guinness PRO14 disciplinary hearing today after being cited for bumping into referee Andrew Brace in the Boxing Day loss to Cardiff Blues.

Dee, who won caps against Georgia and South Africa in the autumn, made minor contact with the Irish official when attempting to get into position to tackle Josh Turnbull in the 77th minute of the game in Newport.

To the bemusement of most supporters and pundits, Dee was reported by the PRO14 citing commissioner and faced a disciplinary hearing via video conference.

The Dragons clearly felt he had no case to answer and named him in their XV for Sunday’s clash with the Ospreys (kick-off 5.35pm) before the three-man panel of Scots had heard the evidence.

Head coach Bernard Jackman got the boost that he was expecting when Dee was cleared to play - although it WAS deemed to have been an illegal act.

"After reviewing the video clips and reports, and hearing explanations from the player and his coach, the hearing committee held that an act of foul play had been committed but that it did not merit an on-field red card and so the citing complaint was not upheld," read a statement.

The presence of Dee at the heart of the front row is a huge boost for a Dragons side that are underdogs in their final home derby of the season.

The Rodney Parade region have not won a league clash with Welsh rivals since Boxing Day, 2014. That nightmare streak of 18 successive defeats features five losses in Newport.

Livewire Dee has scored seven tries in nine games this season and is a key figure in their driving lineout, while his tally of 18 carries against the Blues was more than any other player.

The Dragons are without Wales full-back Hallam Amos after he limped off in the closing stages on Boxing Day while his Test teammate Leon Brown is still absent with the concussion he suffered against New Zealand.

Jackman sprang a surprise by leaving Gavin Henson out of his 23 to face the Ospreys. The 35-year-old has not been reported as injured.

The former Wales and Lions playmaker was off colour against the Blues and Arwel Robson gets the 10 jersey with Angus O'Brien his back-up.

Teenage scrum-half Dan Babos, a late withdrawal on Boxing Day because of a calf strain, gets the nod ahead of Sarel Pretorius.

Full-back Carl Meyer makes his first appearance since suffering an abdominal tear in September as replacement for Wales speedster Amos while there is also a welcome return for Sam Beard in midfield.

He slots in at outside centre after recovering from a torn pectoral muscle suffered in Edinburgh in the second week of the season while Jared Rosser gets the nod ahead of Pat Howard on the wing.

There are three changes up front with tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother, lock Rynard Landman and flanker Ben Roach coming in.

Strong-running Robson Blake is named among the replacements while South African centre Jarryd Sage is poised for a debut from the bench.

The Dragons have just the Southern Kings beneath them in Conference B while the Ospreys prop up Conference A.

The west Walians have won 12 successive league meetings between the sides since being pipped 21-20 in January, 2012.

The Ospreys are captained by former Dragons blindside Dan Lydiate while Wales fly-half Dan Biggar returns to the starting line-up. Lock Alun Wyn Jones is among the replacements.

Dragons: C Meyer, A Hewitt, S Beard, J Dixon, J Rosser, A Robson, D Babos, S Hobbs, E Dee, L Fairbrother, C Hill (captain), R Landman, A Wainwright, B Roach, J Benjamin. Replacements: L Belcher, T Davies, N Thomas, R Blake, J Sheekey, S Pretorius, A O’Brien, J Sage.

Ospreys: D Evans, H Dirksen, K Fonotia, O Watkin, J Hassler, D Biggar, R Webb, N Smith, S Baldwin, D Arhip, B Davies, A Beard, D Lydiate (captain), J Tipuric, O Cracknell. Replacements: S Otten, P James, M Fia, AW Jones, R McCusker, T Habberfield, S Davies, A Beck

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)