Edinburgh Rugby are set to be boosted by the return to action of centre Matt Scott for Sunday’s Guinness Pro12 encounter with Cardiff Blues at BT Murrayfield.
Key man Scott has been sidelined for just over six months since he dislocated his shoulder against Leinster back in early May.
The injury forced him to miss nine matches for his club and seven internationals and his presence back on the field is not only a boost to Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons, but also his Scotland counterpart Vern Cotter.
Solomons said: “It is great to have Matty back. Whenever players get injured, and we have had a few of late, you want to see them back out there and fully fit as soon as possible. It has been a frustrating time for him, but he has worked hard and we are delighted to welcome him back as he is a quality player.”
As well as Scott, Edinburgh will be able to call on David Denton for the match on Sunday, which pits the eighth placed hosts against their ninth placed rivals.
Denton, released from the Scotland squad after coming off the bench against the All Blacks last weekend, will be joined in the back row by Roddy Grant, who has made a remarkably quick recovery from a facial injury suffered on European duty against Lyon on 24 October.
In a further boost, Tom Brown, who earned one Scotland cap in 2012 against Australia, is set to return to the backline after a torrid time with knee ligament damage and also having to get his appendix out.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
The likes of captain Mike Coman, Fraser McKenzie, Neil Cochrane and Stuart McInally are also edging closer to match fitness.
Of course there is still a long injury list at the capital club, with the likes of Allan Dell, Grant Gilchrist, Cornell Du Preez, Hamish Watson, Phil Burleigh and a number of others keeping the physios very busy, but Solomons can see some light at the end of the tunnel.
He said: “As I said after the Lyon match, in my 37 years of coaching I have never seen an injury list like it and one that contained so many serious injuries. We had to go into the Leinster match [which they lost 33-8 at the end of last month] with a number of young players and club player Jack Turley, who I thought handled the occasion particularly well. After that match we counted that 22 guys were injured so I think the break for the Autumn Tests came at a good time for us.
“It has allowed a number of players to trickle back to fitness, but the key is not to rush them in too quickly. Take for example someone like Stu McInally, he hasn’t played for a long time and is still trying to get used to the hooker role, so ideally he will get a number of club matches under his belt in the coming weeks.”
Solomons and his players are now focused on the next block of 10 games in the season, six in the league and four in Europe, which will take them up to the RBS Six Nations. Solomons added: “It is vitally important we build up some momentum during this phase and it has been good after the mini-break to have the guys back in here training normally and getting back to it this week.
Meanwhile, the head coach has admitted he was disappointed to lose defence coach Omar Mouneimne this week but, in the circumstances, nothing else could have been done.
Mouneimne has returned to South Africa immediately for personal reasons and Solomons said: “When things like that happen you have to be understanding and Omar’s priorities are, rightly, elsewhere at this moment.
“He worked hard with the boys and helped me put good structures for the season in place and I think a lot of the players in the squad benefitted from working with him.”
Currently, Solomons and his assistant Stevie Scott are dividing up the jobs that Mouneimne carried out and they believe he has left a good legacy on which to build on.
The Edinburgh squad for Sunday’s match (4pm kick-off) will be announced later today.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS