COUGARS head coach Craig Lingard is delighted to welcome Davey Dixon back into the fold after the talented winger's trip Down Under as part of Scotland's under-23s squad in the Commonwealth Nines Championship.

After a tough start to the tournament, losing to both Fiji and Australia, the Scots grew in confidence and on the second day they beat Papua New Guinea and Wales to claim victory in the Shield final.

Dixon scored a crucial try with three minutes to go in that deciding game against the Welsh, meaning he returned to the Keighley squad high on confidence.

Lingard's side have been in mixed form without Dixon. A high-scoring win over Workington on the opening day of the season was followed by a disappointing Challenge Cup exit to North Wales Crusaders, with the Cougars blowing a big lead in that clash.

Yet the head coach could not begrudge Dixon's trip to Australia, saying: "He missed the first two games but we knew about that.

"It was the opportunity of a lifetime to go to a different country and we wouldn't stand in his way."

Dixon will be hoping to continue where he left off in England, after scoring a hat-trick against a young Leeds Rhinos side in a pre-season match.

Lingard said: "Two of the tries were great finishes. I think that is what wingers are paid to do now.

"Tom Johnstone scored a couple for Wakefield in the Super League on the opening day of the season. It's becoming more and more the norm."

Lingard expects Dixon to kick on from his performances during his first campaign in senior rugby, having signed for Cougars from Castleford's academy.

The Keighley boss said: "He admitted himself that playing in his first full season against men, it took him a while to get used to the pace and physicality of the game.

"But as soon as he did that, you could tell through his performances that he has certainly got something about him.

"When you believe in players, you hope they are going to reward you with some decent performances and he did that last year.

"I think this year, with a season behind him playing against men, it stands him in good stead and we hope he will be a stand-out figure for us."

In terms of Dixon's future, Lingard added: "He is signed on a two-year deal – which shows how highly I regard Davey.

"But he wants to get back into Super League as soon as possible and hopefully we can help him do that.

"Ideally for us by getting into the Championship this year and then, if he's good enough, a Super League club will come in for him at some stage."