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Barclay continues as Scotland captain despite Laidlaw’s inclusion for Six Nations

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Adam Ellis

John Barclay will lead Scotland through their Six Nations campaign after Gregor Townsend replaced Greig Laidlaw as captain.

The Clermont Auvergne scrum-half endured an injury-hit 2017 which saw him miss Scotland’s final three Six Nations matches and their autumn internationals.

Seeking to maintain continuity after a hugely impressive performances against New Zealand, Australia and Samoa, head coach Townsend has lent his backing to Barclay and also welcomes back some key figures into his 40-man squad.

On a day when Worcester wing Josh Adams received a Wales call-up, club team-mate David Denton returns to his national fold for the first time in over two years, while in the second row Richie Gray returns after undergoing back surgery last summer.

Options are aplenty in midfield with Edinburgh’s Mark Bennett and Saracens’ Duncan Taylor back in the mix, as Townsend seems untroubled about including experienced players recovering from spells on the sidelines.

Balancing experience with novelty, four uncapped players are in line to feature against Wales in the match which kick-off the tournament on Saturday 3 February.

In-form Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn receives a deserved call-up with Stuart Hogg short of fitness, and is joined by Nathan Fowles, Murray McCallum and D’arcy Rae as the rookies in the Scotland team.

Speaking of the announcement, Townsend said: “It’s a bigger squad than we originally planned –which is largely down to the competition for places – with a number of players having performed well in the autumn Tests and a few others putting their hands up for selection in recent weeks.

“We welcome Blair Kinghorn into our group for the first time, who has been in excellent form with Edinburgh this season, and also three of our most experienced players in Richie Gray, Greig Laidlaw and Scott Lawson.

“We are looking forward to working with them and the rest of the squad to ensure that we build on the momentum the players generated in 2017.”

Scotland Six Nations Squad

Backs: Mark Bennett (Edinburgh), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors)Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (ASM Clermont Auvergne), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Nathan Fowles (Edinburgh)

Forwards: John Barclay (Scarlets, Capt), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh), David Denton (Worcester Warriors), Cornell Du Preez (Edinburgh), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Toulouse), Luke Hamilton (Leicester Tigers), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), Murray McCallum (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Gordon Reid (London Irish), D’arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)

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