The Newport Gwent Dragons Head Coach Darren Edwards has stated his belief that Dan Lydiate can still force his way into Warren Gatlandâ€™s Lions plans.
Lydiate, 25, played his first game for over six months on Friday during the Dragons 52-19 loss to the Ospreys. The 2012 Six Nations player of the tournament came off after forty minutes as he begins his comeback after dislocating his ankle.
Without doubt one of the finest blindside flankers in the world, Lydiate has just four games left this season to prove him self fit enough, and in form enough, to force his way into the touring party. Edwards believes that for a player of his standing though it should not be a problem:
“A month is enough time for a player of Dan’s quality to prove himself worthy of a Lions spot. He has worked very hard and all he needs is to blow away the cobwebs.â€
“I am sure Warren Gatland knows what balance of team he wants and knows that Dan, with his hard hitting and physicality, would have stood out for Wales against England.â€
“We could only play Dan for 40 minutes on Friday, so we were compromised in some ways, but it was important to get him out on the pitch.â€
“I thought that he did very well and was hunting tackles like he is known for. I am sure there will be another step up in his performance, now that he has got that game under his belt. We will now let Dan go flat-out until he drops against the Scarlets.”
Gatland has already lost Stephen Ferris, considered by many to be the best number six in the world, to injury so the addition of Lydiate would be a welcome bonus, particularly with one of the stars of the 2009 tour, Tom Croft, still on the recovery path from a serious neck injury.
Croft appeared in Englandâ€™s final two Six Nations matches but Gatland will probably want to see a bit more of the England man ahead of the tour. Also competing for the six shirt are Chris Robshaw, Kelly Brown, Sam Warburton and Sean Oâ€™Brien, who all played at seven for their countries but have shown the versatility to play at six.
Tom Wood, meanwhile, began at six for England before moving to number 8 and is considered to be one of the brightest stars of the current England crop, while Ryan Jones and Peter Oâ€™Mahony impressed for Wales and Ireland.
Lydiate is undoubtedly a top talent though, as shown by his selection in so many Lions teams already, including our own Editors.
He would certainly be a welcome addition; the only question is if there is too little time to prove it.