BRISTOL are aiming to have fans back in Ashton Gate before their European Challenge Cup quarter-final against the Dragons.

The Bears return to action a week on Saturday for the run-in in the Gallagher Premiership, with Pat Lam’s side in the mix for the play-offs.

A report in the Daily Mail states that the ambitious West Country club have been working on plans to welcome a reduced number of supporters to their ground in the coming weeks with social distancing measures in place.

They are targeting the clash with Exeter at the end of August and meeting with Northampton at the start of September.

That is a despite last week’s U-turn by the UK government on a number of trial events when reduced crowds had been planned for Glorious Goodwood, a pair of cricket friendlies and the World Snooker Championship.

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“We've done our analysis at Ashton Gate and we think even keeping within the current rules we could get a third of our capacity in comfortably without any difficulty,” said chairman Chris Booy.

“We could get 9,000 to 10,000, which would be a good crowd and would be able to cover our season-ticket holders.”

The Dragons will be watching events closely ahead of their trip to Ashton Gate for the last-eight fixture on Friday, September 18 (kick-off 7.45pm).

Supporters bought tickets for the clash before the coronavirus pandemic led to the postponement of the April fixture and refund information – even if the green light is given for a crowd then not all seat holders would get in – is yet to be released.

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Lam said: “The facilities at Ashton Gate are great and everyone at Bristol Sport is comfortable with us doing it.

“We could easily house fans. The sooner the better, and hopefully it'll happen before the end of this season.”

Both squads have changed since the original fixture date with the Dragons bringing in Wales international backs Jamie Roberts, Nick Tompkins and Jonah Holmes plus lock Joe Maksymiw.

The Bears have made eye-catching signings themselves in Fijian superstar Semi Radradra, Lions prop Kyle Sinckler and Ben Earl and Max Malins, who like Tompkins are on year-long loans from Saracens.

The winners will face either Bordeaux-Begles or Edinburgh.