Ulster coach Mark McCall has stuck with his young guns for the trip to Rodney Parade for Saturday evening's Magners League clash with the Dragons.
With 13 front line players missing and Adam Larkin rated doubtful McCall has delayed naming his side but he has drafted Belfast Harlequins centre Darren Cave into the squad while Paul Marshall is challenging Kieran Campbell for the No 9 shirt.
"We are pretty stretched at the moment in certain positions and there are a lot of people unavailable for selection," said McCall.
"We didn't foresee players like David Humphreys and Paul Steinmetz not being available during these crucial weeks when we are short-staffed.
"We have great faith in some of the younger players who have come through, they have done an exceptional job in the friendlies and the Ospreys game.
"There was a collective dip against Edinburgh but these are young players having their first shot at this and some of those ups and downs are going to occur."
Cave has scored hat tricks in consecutive weeks for his club and with Ulster failing to convert a host of chances at Murrayfield he could be the answer in midfield and McCall looks set to give him a chance.
"Darren is a very promising and good young rugby player and I think he needs constantly challenged at a higher level than he plays week in week out in the Ulster league.
"We have high hopes for Darren, he knows the areas of his game that need improvement but what he needs now is an opportunity and he needs to get onto the big stage and he'll get that opportunity this weekend."
Italian lock Carlo Del Fava is back from World Cup duty but McCall is still missing his Irish contingent although he is hoping to have some of them available for next week's game at Llanelli.
"It's great to have Carlo back and available for selection. He was only away for three weeks and played a couple of matches and he is keen to keep playing.
He is relatively fresh and raring to go. In the case of our other international players, who have just returned to Belfast, we think in the long run its more appropriate they get a week away from rugby and get the opportunity to freshen up."
With Paddy Wallace and Humphreys unavailable and Larkin struggling with a groin injury new summer signing Kieran Hallett comes into the match squad
"Kieran joined us from Bedford on a development contract he has had a couple of games for Malone and has shown up well and it will be interesting to see how he steps up to the higher level."
Neil McMillan returns to the squad after recovering from a leg injury, Bryn Cunningham and Matt McCullough have shaken off knocks picked up in the Edinburgh game while lock Ryan Caldwell is suspended.