Darren Edwards challenges Dragons captain Dan Lydiate

Dan Lydiate
Dragons' stand-in skipper Dan Lydiate is Wales' first-choice blindside flanker

Darren Edwards says captaining Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday night is the next development stage for Wales flanker Dan Lydiate.

The 24-year-old will lead the Dragons for the first time when the Pro12 strugglers aim for their first league win in three months against Ospreys.

Lydiate's impressive Dragons displays earned him a Wales call and the forward has become an international regular.

"This is the next step for Dan," Dragons coach Edwards told BBC Sport.

"We've seen him grow within the Dragons environment first and then Wales.

"Now I think he is the character to actually start leading us in games."

Lydiate skippers Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday because other leading captaincy candidates Luke Charteris (wrist), Tom Willis (thumb) and Gavin Thomas (knee) are injured, while Ashley Smith is just returning to full fitness.

Dragons are second from bottom of the Pro12 and host the second-placed Ospreys hoping to maintain Edwards' 100% winning record against the three-time Celtic League champions.

Lydiate was a first-choice starter in Warren Gatland's team during Wales' impressive 2011 World Cup campaign, which saw the Welsh finished fourth in New Zealand.

And the 6ft 4in forward is expected to play a major part in Wales' Six Nations campaign when it begins in Ireland on 5 February.

But first Edwards wants his experienced blindside flanker to show his captaincy potential against the Ospreys at Rodney Parade.

"He leads through his body language on the field," said Edwards.

"He has that aura amongst the players and when he speaks they do actually listen, and that is important with the amount of emotion... in the sport of rugby."

Lydiate, Toby Faletau, Lloyd Burns, Aled Brew and the departing Charteris were Dragons players at the World Cup and Edwards admits his newly-established international players will have an impact on his squad additions in the summer.

"We are trying to recruit the right type of player as we're a bit unbalanced at the moment," said Edwards.

"We have to make sure we're not just left with young players but have a nice balance with players that are able to play when they are needed and when the international guys come back, they are able to step aside and not cause any disruptions to the environment.

"Getting so many in the Wales squad has made us change the way we recruit as we must make sure we cover those players with quality so they continue to stay in that Wales squad."