despite a bizarre attempted cover-up, it emerged last night that Gordon Simpson, the Scottish international flanker, has been ruled out of Sunday's Heineken European Cup meeting with Northampton Saints not because of a leg injury, as previously reported, but due to an abdominal infection.

The 30-year-old, who made an exceptional return to Test rugby against Ireland last month, has been in hospital since Monday after an examination showed that he had ''an infection in the abdominal wall''; and while it is hoped he can be discharged by the weekend, he has no chance of making the trip.

Donnie Macfadyen, his fellow back-row forward, has already been ruled out because of a recurring groin problem which flared up during last Friday's drawn match with Montferrand at Hughenden.

Richie Dixon, Glasgow's coach, indicated on Tuesday that both players were doubtful for the match but initially refused to explain why.

Subsequently, however, a spokesman released false information that both men were

suffering from leg injuries.

Apparently the genteel nature of some involved in rugby administration offers at least part of the explanation, with David Jordan, Glasgow's chief executive, saying yesterday that they had been unwilling to issue an accurate statement because ''it is a rather sensitive injury.''

Simpson suffered an initial injury to his abdomen during that Murrayfield win over Ireland, but the problem became inflamed only after the Montferrand game.

Having had an unusually clean bill of health going into their European campaign, back-row was the area in which

Glasgow could least afford to lose players, with their resources already stretched by the decisions to turn Roland Reid into a winger and shift Jason White into the second-row.

Gareth Flockhart should readily slot in, but unless Reid and/or White revert to their former roles it seems likely that Martin Waite will be called into the squad.