NEWPORT Gwent Dragons flanker Darren Waters is on the brink of a return to action after five months on the sidelines.
The abrasive 28-year-old openside ruptured ligaments in his left knee for the second successive season in pre-season training.
The former bricklayer, who signed for the Dragons after impressing at Pontypridd in the Premiership, has returned to full training and has been helping his regional teammates prepare for their Amlin Challenge Cup finale against Mogliano on Thursday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
He will not feature in northern Italy but is poised to get some game time under his belt this weekend.
Waters is likely to turn out for Cross Keys in their British and Irish Cup clash against Moseley at Billesley Common on Saturday afternoon.
“Darren had a really good pre-season and was so unlucky with the injury but the speed that he has returned demonstrates his dedication,” said head coach Darren Edwards.
“He has been signed off by the surgeon and now we will manage his game time. If we can keep him injury-free and on the field then we have got a really good player added to our squad.”
Waters made just two regional appearances in 2012/13 after suffering a calf injury on his comeback against London Welsh in the LV= Cup.
The Anglo-Welsh tournament is likely to provide him with chance to stake his claim for a spot in the season run-in with the Dragons hosting Northampton a week on Saturday before heading to Newcastle on Friday, January 31.
Meanwhile, the Dragons are still waiting for results of scans on wing Tom Prydie and fly-half Jason Tovey, who suffered ankle and knee injuries respectively in the first half of the 30-13 defeat Bath last weekend.
Fly-half/centre Lewis Robling and loosehead prop Phil Price are back in the squad form Mogliano and up for selection after knee and hip injuries respectively.
Wales wing Hallam Amos is making good progress in his recovery from the ankle injury he suffered against Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day and should be back in light training next week along with lock Cory Hill, who also injured an ankle while training over the festive period.
Thursday’s game is a dead rubber with Bath already through to the quarter-finals, although if the final round of results go to form then the Dragons will leapfrog Bordeaux-Begles into second place in Pool Two.
Dragons squad: D Evans, W Harries, M Pewtner, A Hughes, R Wardle, A Smith, P Leach, L Robling, K Burton, S Jones, R Rees, W Evans, J Evans, L Jones, O Evans, A Coundley, H Gustafson, N Williams, R Thomas, S Parry, E Dee, D Way, F Chaparro, P Price, N Buck, R Sidoli, M Screech, A Coombs, A Jones, J Groves, N Cudd, L Evans, T Faletau, I Jones.