Cardiff Blues could be boosted by the return of several star players by the end of the year.
The Blues take on Newport Gwent Dragons and the Ospreys during a busy festive period in the Magners League. And they are set to be bolstered by the return of Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and Deiniol Jones.
Roberts has not played for five months after undergoing wrist surgery in July. The original injury was sustained during the infamous ‘Battle of Pretoria’ in the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa last year, but the extent of the damage was not discovered for a further 12 months.
Roberts revealed his rugby return was “imminent” earlier in the week and although Blues head coach Dai Young has sounded a note of caution he expects to have his 2009 Lions man of the Series back to face the Dragons.
“He's probably swallowing his foot at the minute,” said Young.
“He announced his return to the world but he’s retracting his statement a bit really. He’s only had the all-clear that he can start. Fitness won’t be a problem, it’s just a case of getting some contact in.
“We’re not going to rush him back. It’s good news but it’s only a long shot of him making Europe. But I’m sure come the Dragons and Ospreys games he will be figuring.’
Halfpenny has also endured a frustrating spell on the sidelines, picking up an ankle injury the week before Wales’ autumn campaign kicked off against Australia.
Second-row Jones made the international series but he sustained a fractured cheekbone in the draw with Fiji.
“Leigh Halfpenny is progressing really well,” continued Young. “He’s probably just missed out on the European games. The Ospreys game is a more realistic target for him.
“As you know Deiniol fractured his cheekbone and again he should be back for the Dragons or Ospreys.”
Meanwhile Ben Blair is set to miss the remainder of the year but should be back within six weeks.
“Ben’s still injured, he’s had an injection for a ligament problem at the back of his knee. It’s giving him quite a bit of pain when he runs.
“It’s on-going. It’s not something that requires surgery, he’ll been told two to six weeks, so we’re probably looking at four.”