Fitter than at any time since his stunning performances for Scotland during the 1999 Five Nations Championship-winning campaign, Glenn Metcalfe makes his season's debut against Bridgend at The Brewery Field tonight in a radically overhauled Glasgow side.

Of the side which started Friday's drawn match with Ulster at Hughenden, only Cameron Blades and Nathan Ross, the new Australian recruits in the front five, as well as Jon Petrie, the international No.8 who captains the side for the first time, keep their places, while Ian McInroy switches from wing to centre.

Andy Nicol, the club captain, fellow internationalists Jon Steel and Jason White, and youngsters Andy Henderson and Donny Macfadyen, who have both started the season brightly, are all rested, while Tommy Hayes has a shoulder problem and Gordon Bulloch a calf strain, though both are expected to be fit to meet Pontypridd at Hughenden on Friday.

Michael Bartlett, whose only previous appearance in the UK was also in Wales, as a trialist for the then Glasgow Caledonian Reds at Neath in season 1999-2000, a performance which would have won him a contract immediately had he not broken down with injury, makes his first appearance since signing his contract, while Graeme Beveridge, the international scrum half who missed almost all of last season, is likely to come off the bench at some stage.

However, it is the return of fellow kilted Kiwi Metcalfe which will encourage all involved with the side, particularly since Gordon Crawford, Glasgow's fitness coach, believes him to be in that peak condition which saw him rip top international defences to shreds two years ago before a succession of debilitating foot and knee injuries left him hobbling.

Meanwhile, less than a week after officially telling the management his future lies among the backs, Roland Reid returns to the pack at blindside flanker for his first start since that announcement, although Richie Dixon, Glasgow's coach, said that it was merely an emergency measure.

''We have had to look closely at the make-up of the side, taking into account the fact that we have two matches in three days. However, the nucleus of this side played against Northampton a fortnight ago in a pre-season match, and they had a full session yesterday and another one today, so they should be ready to perform,'' he pointed out.

''They started that match badly and it's fair to say a few of them were very nervous given the quality of the opposition, but they seemed to get that out of their system and performed well in the remainder of that match, outscoring Northampton 12-7 in the last 65 minutes.''

The nature of Glasgow's start to the season, losing heavily at Leinster before throwing away a winning lead to draw with Ulster, certainly indicates that tonight's match offers a number of players a chance to challenge for regular starting places, but the efforts in the Celtic League so far of tonight's opponents - a side they never beat in five meetings as Glasgow Caledonian Reds - also indicate how difficult it is to gauge form at this early stage.

Bridgend lost their opening home match at The Brewery Field to Pontypridd 11 days ago but then visited Welsh/Scottish League champions Swansea and won 25-16 on Saturday

Dennis John, their coach, explained: ''We simply didn't turn up for the first match, but we were much better at the weekend. However, while Swansea were not at full strength, they still had only one player on the pitch who was not at the very least an A international, and that result was a real coup for us.

''I won there only once as a player, once when I was coaching Pontypridd, and that was my first win at St Helens since moving to Bridgend. Three times in 25 years isn't very often.''

Celtic League, Bridgend v Glasgow,

The Brewery Field, kick-off 7pm

Bridgend A Durston; G Jones, G Thomas, J Funnell, D Jones; C Rees, H Harries (capt); C Loader, C Ferris, C Noon, P Clapham, N Budgett, M Molitika, S Van Rensburg, R Bryan. Replacements J Howlett, A Joy, J Downes, A Griffiths, P Williams

Glasgow G Metcalfe; M Bartlett, I McInroy,

J Stuart, J Criag; B Irving, C Black; C Blades, G Scott, L Harrison, N Ross, A Hall, R Reid, G Flockhart, J Petrie (capt). Replacements A Moffat, D Hilton, C Stewart, G Simpson, G Beveridge, G Kiddie, J McLaren