DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan won't risk the welfare of his players by chasing short-term glory on the return to action next month.

The Rodney Parade region will finish their 2019/20 Guinness PRO14 with derbies against the Ospreys, in Swansea on August 22, and the Scarlets in Newport the following weekend.

They will then head over the Severn Bridge to face Bristol in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals on the weekend of September 18.

The Dragons are looking to avoid being overtaken by the Ospreys and could still finish with more points than Cardiff Blues while they are looking to preserve their 100 per cent record in the last eight of European rugby.

However, director of rugby Ryan is focused on the long game as he enters his second year at the helm.

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"First and foremost our players' welfare is key," he said. "It's not the World Cup on August 22.

"Preparation for those periods and preparation for the next 12 months is crucial. We have to be really careful about separating the two.

"The focus automatically be will be on when we return, but when we do we will then have another 11 months to go through.

"It's really intense and the people who are the smartest will be the ones to come through this in the best shape. When we start to make these small steps back it will be about the next 12 months.

"We know we've got some highlights in there. It's my job they're all linked together and it's not just about one period, because if we fall off the back of that we'll have all sorts of problems which will harm development."

The Dragons have strengthened by signing wing/full-back Jonah Holmes and lock Joe Maksymiw on permanent deals and bringing in Six Nations star Nick Tompkins on a year-long loan from Saracens to boost their midfield.

However, they have lost Wales internationals Cory Hill and Tyler Morgan to Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets respectively.

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The region will once again be operating with a thin squad and a reliance on academy talent, especially given that their international contingent are likely to be away frequently to feature in .

"The Dragons is about making small, stable steps of getting better. Planning for big games as well as a run of games is an important part of what we'll face," said Ryan, whose team are set to go up against Europe's big guns in the Champions Cup in 2020/21.

"Dan Baugh has started with us and his experience, both with Wales and in the Premiership with Wasps, is crucial. It's a big challenge for all of us but those who are smartest about this will do best."