Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson has backed 20-year-old Rufus McLean and 21-year-old Ross Thompson to add some extra zip to his team’s attack in this evening’s 1872 Cup second-leg clash against Edinburgh at Scotstoun.

McLean will be making his first appearance at this level on the left wing, while Thompson gave an encouraging 10 minutes when he made his debut as a late replacement off the bench during last Saturday’s 1872 Cup first-leg defeat at Murrayfield.

“This is their opportunity to put their stamp on a game,” said Wilson. “If you look at both those players, they are probably more known for their attacking ability, so hopefully they will add to that side of the game. “It is well documented that neither team’s attack really functioned last week. I think we played a little bit more rugby but got a bit too lateral on at times.

“Certainly, conditions probably favoured defence more than attack. Hopefully on a faster track this week we will see a bit more attack.

“We’ve obviously graded Ross in with a little bit of time off the bench last week and a lot more exposure to training in terms of being in the main team rather than in the opposition,” he added. “So, he goes from that to getting this opportunity to start.”

“He is obviously an academy boy who has played Scotland Under-20s [for two seasons], so I am learning about him as I go as well, but I think he deserves an opportunity.”

“Likewise, Rufus would have had an opportunity earlier than this had he not been involved in a couple of Covid situations which have ruled him out for a long period of time. He has been training well – looking sharp – and has bags of gas, so hopefully he gets to show that and he’s got some experience around him in the back three with Lee Jones and Huw Jones, plus Nick Grigg inside him. With his budget slashed due to the impact of Covid, Wilson has been under pressure to give more youngsters a chance this season, rather than invest the little cash he has on overseas imports – but he insists that it would be counter-productive to push too hard too soon.

“Obviously, we have to cut our cloth accordingly – as I’ve said many times – so we’ve got to make sure we recruit and strengthen, and also try to grow it from within,” he explained. “In terms of younger players in Scotland, we need to improve our quality as well, and not just say because they are Scottish that they automatically are there. They’ve got to prove it as well because that’s the only way we get competition and get players to be better and better.

“We’re all trying to win games but at the same time the goalposts have moved a little bit so we’re reacting to that and it does gives us a chance to play a few younger guys in a derby.” McLean and Thompson are two of four changes in total to last weekend’s starting XV. Fit again Oli Kebble will seek to bolster Glasgow’s creaking scrum when he replaces Aki Seiuli at loose-head prop, while Robbie Fergusson (co-opted from the Scotland 7s programme) comes in at inside centre for Sam Johnson, who was ruled out yesterday morning due to a Covid exposure. Johnson has not tested positive and the contact was with someone outside the Warriors camp so Wilson was cautiously optimistic that there won’t be another outbreak in the squad. “There's always a danger though because Sam trained with us before he was informed,” the coach acknowledged.

“It's a massive blow but then Robbie gets a chance in a derby having played really well for us for four games earlier in the season,” he added. “Stafford McDowall is pretty much back fit now, so he'll get opportunities in the coming games, too.”

Meanwhile, Wilson had been hopeful that Pete Horne might become available this week but he has still not recovered from the head-knock sustained against Exeter Chiefs in mid-December. “It is not good news the longer these head injuries last, but he is definitely way better this week and will be allowed to run water for us during the game which he wasn’t allowed to do last weekend – so it shows how long it has been just to get him back to do that,” said Wilson. “Hopefully he’s making good progress and in the next couple of weeks we will get him back involved.” Glasgow Warriors (v Edinburgh at Scotstoun, Friday 7.35pm): H Jones; L Jones, N Grigg, R Fergusson, R McLean; R Thompson, A Price; O Kebble, G Turner, Z Fagerson, R Gray, S Cummings, R Wilson (captain), T Gordon, M Fagerson. Substitutes: J Matthews, A Seiuli, E Pieretto, L Bean, T Ioane, J Dobie, B Thomson, G Bryce.