The quartet are likely to be included in the match-day squad of 22 to be named on Friday by coach Tony McGahan.
McGahan will be without his World Cup contingent along with the injured David Wallace (knee), Felix Jones (ankle) Darragh Hurley (Achilles), Troy Smith (knee) and BJ Botha (calf).
Dragons new signings Tom Brown, Rhys Buckley, Nathan Williams and Joe Bedford are set to make their RaboDirect PRO12 club debuts in the clash. Scrum-half Wayne Evans returns from a shoulder injury picked up in the pre-season friendly against Russia and Martyn Thomas returns after recovering from the second of two broken legs which have kept him out of league action for several months.
Lewis Evans (calf) and Jamie Smith (back) are being rested for the match.
Meanwhile international Dan Tuohy will make his first Ulster start for nearly 10 months when he lines out against Glasgow in the opening clash of the season at Ravenhill on Friday night. Tuohy will partner returning Ulsterman Lewis Stevenson at lock in what could be the only change to the pack that faced Harlequins in last week’s friendly.
The Bristol-born former Gloucester and Exeter Chiefs forward suffered a badly-torn hamstring last January, but returned from the bench for a brief outing last week.
McLaughlin has again called into the squad Peter Nelson, son of former Dungannon fly-half Wilfie, who can play either full-back or wing and made a brief debut as a replacement last week against Harlequins.
Meanwhile Eric Elwood challenged his Connacht players on the eve of the new Rabo Direct Pro 12 to repeat last season’s best league finish. His squad heads to Italy to face Treviso in Saturday’s opener and Elwood has targeted to again finish ahead of the Italian sides and Glasgow. “We have changed our whole approach. We believe on our day we are capable of challenging anybody. We proved that home and away. The challenge now is can we do it again? Can we back it up? We do not want to take a step back and it starts against Treviso on Saturday. That’s the statement we need to make.”
S Scanlon, J Murphy, D Howlett, D Hurley, S Zebo, L Mafi, D Barnes, S Deasy, I Keatley, D Williams, P Stringer, T O’Leary, M Horan, W du Preez, D Varley, M Sherry, S Archer, J Hayes, P Borlase, D Foley, M O’Driscoll, I Nagle, B Holland, D O’Callaghan, P O’Mahony, T O’Donnell, N Ronan, J Coughlan.
M Thomas, S Jones, A Hughes, M Poole, P Leach, T Riley, A Smith, J Tovey, W Evans, J Bedford, P Price, T Willis (c), R Buckley, N Williams, D Way, B Castle, A Jones, J Groves, R Sidoli, A Coombs, G Thomas, H Ellis, T Brown.
P McAllister, C Black, J Cronin, D Fitzpatrick, A Macklin, J Burns, A Kyriacou, N Brady, D Tuohy, L Stevenson, T Barker, N McComb, M McComish, P Wannenburg, C Henry, W Faloon, R Diack, P Marshall, I Porter, I Humphreys, P Jackson, I Whitten, L Marshall, N Spence, D Cave, P Nelson, C Gaston, C Gilroy, A D’Arcy