TAINE Basham will make his Dragons debut against Guinness PRO14 champions the Scarlets in Llanelli on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm) with boss Bernard Jackman saying he sees shades of Justin Tipuric in the teenage openside.

The 18-year-old from Talywain has been impressing for Cross Keys in the Principality Premiership in recent weeks and will follow in the footsteps of fellow burgeoning back rowers Max Williams, Aaron Wainwright and Lennon Greggains in making a regional debut this season.

Bright prospect Basham, who played for Wales Under-18s in South Africa last summer and was supposed to be in the Under-20s’ Six Nations training camp this week, has been fast-tracked because of the Dragons’ lengthy injury list.

They are currently without back row forwards Lewis Evans (pectoral muscle), Nic Cudd (knee), Ollie Griffiths (ankle), Harri Keddie (shoulder), James Thomas (knee) and Williams (shoulder) while James Sheekey was forced off with a shoulder injury in the New Year’s Eve lost to the Ospreys.

“Taine is a gifted boy,” said head coach Bernard Jackman. “He is obviously very young but has loads of X-factor.

“In an ideal world you don’t give him a debut in a game of this magnitude but he is someone that we definitely would have liked to give a game at some stage this season to give him a taste of it, now he is getting it in a huge match.

“He is a good player. We rate him and think he’s got a big future for us. It’s a great opportunity for him.

“I see him as a seven, a Tipuric type. He is a very good ball carrier but not power, it’s speed and footwork. He is an attacking seven.”

Basham will start at openside against the champions while the Dragons are without Wales hooker Elliot Dee, who is undergoing a head injury assessment, and wing Ashton Hewitt (neck strain).

They are hopeful of having Cory Hill available to captain the side from lock after he suffered a blow to his back against the Ospreys but Rynard Landman is a doubt with a calf injury. Joe Davies is expected to be back from a concussion to take his place in the boilerhouse.

Fly-half Gavin Henson, who was dropped against the Ospreys after struggling against Cardiff Blues, will not feature again with 20-year-old Arwel Robson retaining the 10 jersey.

"Gav is working really hard with our defence coach and our breakdown coach just to fine tune a few things," said Jackman.

"If it was a normal week he would potentially come back in but because we only came in today and have tomorrow [to train for the Scarlets], he will get a lot more work done on Thursday and Friday if he is not playing."