DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan has warned that Wales hooker Elliot Dee needs to rack up more minutes to fulfil his potential.

The 27-year-old from Newbridge will return from a calf injury in the Rainbow Cup clash against Glasgow on Saturday night (kick-off 7.35pm) in time to push for a summer of Test rugby.

Dee will aim to be Wales' starter in the absence of Lions hooker Ken Owens, adding to his 37 caps after being back-up in all five games of the Six Nations title triumph.

The front rower hasn't played since the European Challenge Cup defeat to Northampton at the start of April and has played just nine times for the Dragons this season to go along with international cameos.

Director of rugby Ryan believes Dee, who started for Wales against Georgia in November, needs to get more minutes in the middle to fulfil his potential in the battle to succeed Owens.

Wales Louis Rees-Zammit (left) celebrates scoring their seventh try with teammate Elliot Dee during the Guinness Six Nations match at Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Wales' Louis Rees-Zammit (left) celebrates scoring their seventh try with teammate Elliot Dee during the Guinness Six Nations match at Stadio Olimpico, Rome

"Elliot needs to play and that has been a challenge for a long time," he said. "He comes back to us, plays a couple of games, goes away again and sits on the bench.

"We haven't seen anything near Elliot fulfilling his potential. He's got status of an international, but he needs to really work and develop his game.

"That is something Wales need to be really aware of because, certainly this season, the demands of international rugby for those caught on the fringes has left them with really poor playing time.

"You add an injury like Elliot has had it just increases the pressure on playing consistently, so he is delighted to be back and we are delighted to get him back on the field."

At 27, Dee should be hitting his prime as a front row forward but Ryan is concerned that he hasn't been able to build up a head of steam.

Dragons and Wales hooker Elliot Dee

Dragons and Wales hooker Elliot Dee

"Look at his games and he won't have played a huge amount, so age is one thing but number of games is another," said Ryan about the hooker, who has played 117 times for the Dragons over eight seasons.

"Leon Brown has found himself in that position as well, where you get on the fringes of national squad but not really getting in, and then when you come back you're backwards and forwards. It's a real challenge to get some sustained game time and show progress."

The Dragons name their team at midday but they will take no risks with back row forward Harri Keddie (dead leg) and scrum-half Rhodri Williams (shoulder).

Ryan will once again blend youth and experience in the competition, which started with a win against the Scarlets before defeats to Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys.

That means it is unlikely that the Dragons' season will be extended another week with the Rainbow Cup final, which the PRO14 have confirmed will be in Treviso between the European winners and top South African team.

With two fixtures remaining, Benetton are currently setting the pace with a four-point lead over Glasgow. The Bulls are leading in South Africa.

The Dragons beat Glasgow at Scotstoun and Principality Stadium in the PRO14.

They will once again host the Warriors in the capital while work is done on their Rodney Parade pitch ahead of next season.

"Moving to Principality Stadium was a big boost for us after the pretty poor sort of surface challenges we faced over the previous few months," said Ryan, whose side scored four-try bonuses in all three derbies.

"That gave us a bit of a lift and I think the Cardiff City Stadium can do the same.

"Glasgow are a side we have played pretty well against in recent times and the game we had at the stadium was probably one of our highlights and we are keen to sort of test ourselves again."