Lewis Carmichael set to make long-awaited comeback for Edinburgh

Head coach Richard Cockerill is set to introduce two new signings for Edinburgh's match against Ospreys. Picture: SNS/SRU
Head coach Richard Cockerill is set to introduce two new signings for Edinburgh's match against Ospreys. Picture: SNS/SRU
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Scotland cap Lewis Carmichael is set to play his first match in more than a year this Saturday while two of Edinburgh’s newest signings are to make their debuts for the club in the same match.

The capital side will complete their gruelling 16-week pre-season programme with a friendly hit out against the Ospreys at BT Murrayfield.

The Edinburgh players – minus the Scotland squad members – have been working all summer under the watchful eye of the coaching staff and have enjoyed “competitive” training sessions with the national team and Georgia as well as a friendly victory over London Scottish ten days ago.

The Guinness Pro14 
season begins in just over a fortnight’s time and for 24-year-old Carmichael the 2019-20 campaign cannot come soon enough.

Cast your mind back to the summer of 2018 and things could not have been going better for the second-row/back-row from North Berwick.

He had just earned his first two full international caps against Canada and the USA on the summer tour, but then disaster struck.

The former Melrose player, who also had a spell in Australia with Western Force, missed the start of the 2018-19 season with concussion and then slipped in a freak accident in training and ruptured his ACL in December.

That knee issue required surgery in early January and since then he has been working hard with Edinburgh’s medical staff to get back to full fitness.

All the days in the gym have been worthwhile because he is primed to be back on the pitch this Saturday.

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said: “Lewis will play at the weekend.

“Lewis had a knee operation in January, but he has recovered from that and has been training hard and is looking good.”

As well as Carmichael’s return, Edinburgh supporters can expect to see new signings Jamie Bhatti and Ruan Steenkamp getting their first run-outs for the club.

Bhatti, a loosehead prop, has joined the club from Glasgow Warriors and just missed out on World Cup selection with Scotland while South African back-row Steenkamp arrived last week on a short-term deal.

The wait continues for Fijian duo Mesulame Kunavula and Eroni Sau, though. Cockerill said: “Kunavula is still recovering from a shoulder operation and he should be fit for the start of the season, but isn’t ready to play yet and Eroni Sau is still waiting on his visa. He has a wife and three kids so it takes a bit of processing.

“We played half a [training] game against Scotland, we had Georgia in [training] with us last Wednesday and we had London Scottish up before the Ospreys so these workouts will do us well come the season.”

Meanwhile, Cockerill – who currently has ten players with Scotland, one with Fiji and Jamie Ritchie awaiting word on his involvement at the upcoming World Cup – has welcomed the news that the club should have a new stadium in place by 2020-21.

On Monday it was confirmed that The City of Edinburgh Council had granted a building warrant to enable the club to begin construction on a purpose-built 7,800 capacity stadium on the back pitches at Murrayfield.

It should be up and running next term and Cockerill said: “We just want to build our own identity and have our 
own stadium as part of that. 
[The project] has hit a few glitches in the last 12 to 18 months so we’re glad that it’s past.

“Hopefully by the start of next season we’ll have a new home and we can start to have sell-out crowds and we can have our own colour scheme and look on the stadium.

“It’s what we need and it’s something that we need to build on.

“It’s great playing in the main stadium, but we can probably sell out 7-8,000 every week if we get things right and we can build an atmosphere that’s a bit more hostile to come and play in [come 2020-21].”