Glasgow Caledonian Reds coach Richie Dixon's decision to rest three key players for tomorrow's visit to Newport has offered a further opportunity to other members of his squad to push their cases for inclusion in Scotland's New Zealand tour party.

Captain Andy Nicol and fellow internationalists Glenn Metcalfe and Gordon Simpson are missing the trip, along with the man at the centre of the eligibility row, Dave Hilton, who picked up a calf injury during Sunday's narrow victory over struggling Dunvant.

Following that lacklustre performance, Dixon is well aware that his men will have to move up through the gears if they are to have any chance against Newport, but he stressed the need to protect his players.

''Gordon has had a foot problem over the past couple of weeks, and although he probably could have played, the last thing we want is to put unnecessary pressure on an injury at this stage,'' he said.

''Glenn is not 100 per cent either after turning an ankle against Dunvant, and while those injuries tend to heal up pretty quickly, more serious damage could be done if he did it again, so we may not even play him against Neath next week.

''Like Gordon, Andy will definitely play at Neath in our last Celtic League match, though. I have discussed things with him and just feel that, after a very intense season, he will benefit from an extended rest at this stage, since I am sure he will also be playing against the Barbarians at the end of the month before Scotland go on tour.

''We certainly think the side we are sending to Newport can win the game, though.''

The Reds will be led by Rowen Shepherd as he makes a timely return to the position where he has played most of his Test rugby, while it is also an opportune moment for Graeme Beveridge, who was on the bench for Scotland in Wales this season, to start a second successive match.

In Simpson's continued absence, meanwhile, all three back-row members - Gareth Flockhart, Donnie Macfadyen and Jon Petrie - must have the added incentive of believing they could make the tour.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds team to face Newport - R Shepherd captain; J Craig, J Stuart, I Jardine, A Bulloch; T Hayes, G Beveridge; A Watt, G Bulloch, G McIlwham, J White, S Campbell, G Flockhart, D Macfadyen, J Petrie. Replacements - B Irving, F Stott, R Reid, M Waite, D Burns, D Herrington, G Scott.