GLASGOW Warriors head coach Danny Wilson is hoping to make a virtue out of a necessity by using the growing list of injured players in his squad as an opportunity to give emerging talent a chance to shine. 

The team travel to France this weekend to take on Lyon in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup, and back-row is a particular area of concern. 

Openside flanker Rory Darge – who has been one of the club’s outstanding performers since making the switch from Edinburgh just over a year ago – is set to miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, and his understudy, Tom Gordon, is struggling with a concussion. 

Meanwhile, blindside flanker Ryan Wilson is still in pain following the dead-leg he suffered against Newcastle Falcons three weeks ago, while No 8 Matt Fagerson is not expected to featre again this season following the arm injury he suffered playing for Scotland against Ireland at the end of the Six Nations. 

That leaves Jack Dempsey, Rob Harley and Ally Miller as the only dedicated back-rows currently fully fit in the senior squad, and Wilson suggested that academy prospect Gregor Brown could be in line for his first call-up to the senior side since being side-lined for almost a year with a knee injury last March. 

“It’s not great,” conceded Wilsom. “Rory Darge is not looking particularly good at the moment. He has a knee injury and we are trying to get an assessment to see how long he will be out for. Tom Gordon is the other one, so two in the same position has left us a bit exposed in the back row. Matt Fagerson was already injured so that area is light at the moment.  

“Ryan is also struggling but I think and hope he will make it. He picked up a nasty dead leg before he went to South Africa and got another bang on the same leg last week. He was hobbling around a bit but with the right rehab this week it might just be a case of getting him out there and playing him. So not too much training – but that will probably suit Ryan.” 

“So, it’s definitely not ideal, but one man’s adversity is another man’s opportunity,” he added. “There are going to be opportunities for boys to go and play a big European quarter-final in France. That will be great for them and we’ll see what that means for the squad. 

“You might see the likes of Gregor Brown now getting an opportunity in the back-row.” 

It is not only in the back-row that Glasgow’s squad depth is being tested, with wingers Sebastian Cancelliere and Kyle Steyn, plus second-row Scott Cummings, all highly unlikely top play again this season. 

“If we were to make a final one of them might be available but I very much doubt it,” said Wilson. 

“If you want to win anything you have to have a deep squad. So, ultimately, we need to grow the squad and that’s one way of doing it. You are forced to do it at times. You try to do it in the early part of the season as opposed to at this stage when you want to put out your best team to win knockout games. But sometimes you don’t have a choice in the matter. 

Lyon are top seeds in the Challenge Cup and are in a rich vein of form in the French Top 14  – but Wilson said his team will travel to the Matmut Stadium believing they can cause an upset. 

“Lyon put a big score on Montpellier, who are top of the Top14 table, at the weekend which shows the quality they have,” acknowledged  the coach. “And you can see from the star-studded names and the budget they’ve spent building their squad that it is going to be a massive challenge. Ultimately, for us, we need to grow to be better on the road and that is being tested in abundance at the moment. 

“We finished the game last week against Bulls strongly after a dip around 50 minutes. We came back and won the last 20 minutes, but we still need to make strides in our away form to close games out.  

“We have another chance to do that this weekend. I am really pleased that we have achieved our aim of quarter-finals in the two competitions. Making the URC top eight is a step forward from last season but we want more than that. In both competitions we want to go on to the next stage."