THE Dragons will be without back row forward Harri Keddie for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Zebre after the Wales hopeful suffered a head injury.

The 21-year-old from Llanvaches was forced off in the opening quarter of last weekend’s last-gasp 29-27 defeat to Benetton in Treviso.

Keddie, who has played eight games on the spin since returning from a dislocated shoulder in January, failed his return to play protocols and will sit out the second Italian clash in L’Aquila.

The back row forward, who has an outside shot of touring with Wales this summer, will hope to return for the Judgement Day finale with the Scarlets at the end of the month.

Head coach Bernard Jackman will also be without loosehead Gerard Ellis after the converted hooker suffered an early knee injury in Treviso.

The 25-year-old will also miss the Principality Stadium date and the Dragons are flying Thomas Davies out to Italy to compete with Luke Garrett and Wales Under-20s international Josh Reynolds for the 1 jersey against Zebre.

However, the management won’t send out an SOS after the blow to Keddie with a fellow young prospect set to deputise at blindside next to Lewis Evans and Aaron Wainwright in the back row.

“We’ve got Max Williams with us as lock/back row cover and we will start him at 6 and keep Taine Basham on the bench,” said Jackman.

“Taine was good against Benetton and it was great for him to get so long but Max is another lineout option and is physically a year older.

“It’s tough being in the forwards as an 18-year-old but we like Taine – he has a huge amount of potential and could be very good.

“We do want to try and develop him and feel that a third game in a row off the bench would be better for him.”

The Dragons head to L’Aquila fuelled by the agony of a last-kick loss to Benetton when it looked like their three-year away drought in the PRO14 was set to end.

They fought back from a half-time deficit of 26-6 to lead as the clock went into the red thanks to tries by lock Cory Hill, wing Jared Rosser and centre Connor Edwards.

However, a contentious scrum penalty by Irish official Andrew Brace allowed Tito Tebaldi to steal the spoils.

“There have been a couple of tight games where we have had no luck with the refereeing,” lamented Jackman.

“The problem is that every week (referee manager) Greg Garner is apologising and we spoke to him on Monday and he said that it was a very, very strange decision.

“It was a scrum on our ball and all we needed to do was get the ball in and out for it to be game over then their tighthead flopped belly first onto the ground and the referee pinged us.

“It was a strange decision but we didn’t just lose because of that. First half we started really poorly and gave them a big lead, which was the killer, but to lose the game after fighting back in the way that we did was painful.”