Glasgow v Leinster

As they approach tonight's make-or-break Heineken Cup meeting with Leinster at Hughenden, Glasgow Caledonians could be forgiven for suffering from the sort of paranoia more associated with sportsmen on the other side of the city.

Much the more impressive of Scotland's two professional sides this season - having beaten both Llanelli and Neath in the Celtic League - there was a sense of shock in the camp when the Scotland and Scotland A squads were named a week ago, just as they were finalising their preparations for Europe.

While no fewer than 19 Edinburgh Reivers players were named in the two squads, there were only 11 from Caledonians.

Furthermore, while Scotland coach Ian McGeechan outlined his desire to include in senior training squads talented youngsters who have the potential to break through to the top level, there was no room for the likes of Ian McInroy and Donald McFadyen, who have performed so impressively for the Reds.

Most of all, however, the fortunes of utility back Alan Bulloch - who was at Hughenden yesterday to help publicise the Glasgow University v Strathclyde University skills race taking place at half-time tonight - might tempt those of a cynical nature to suspect that it is advisable to spend your time a little closer to Murrayfield.

Having toured with Scotland in each of the last two summers, performing outstandingly well in the last match in South Africa against Transvaal's Golden Lions in June, it seems bizarre that the younger brother of established Scotland hooker Gordon has dropped from the tour 30 to non-involvement among 55 players selected for these senior squads.

A much more mature player than when he returned home from Australia a year earlier and seemed to suffer something of a reaction as he lost form, Bulloch, who played superbly against both Neath and Stade Francais over the past couple of weeks, is not going to make the mistake of getting upset about the situation.

He is, though, determined to use it as extra motivation which, he believes, goes for all those members of the Reds squad who feel overlooked.

''The fact that there are so many of us, it's a bit like we are outcasts,'' said the 22-year-old.

''In some ways, though, it is good for the team collectively, as well as each of us individually, in terms of helping us get motivated.

''We have played the Reivers twice and we've beaten them both times, yet for a few of us it seems as though we are on the waiting list.

''However, it is important that we all realise that if we keep playing well then we can put pressure on the selectors.

''There is still time to get into the squads before the internationals come around.''

Furthermore, Bulloch acknowledges that his form is reflected in that of the team's, pre-season success in a tournament in Canada and that second win over the Reivers followed by a slump in form which saw them win one of only five Celtic League matches, before reversing that trend and losing just one of the next six.

''It was my ambition to get up there and I saw the A team as the first step after having been on those tours. However, when the squads were announced I felt I didn't have an argument,'' he admitted.

Not that there is any suggestion of false modesty since he believes he is now putting together a strong case for inclusion.

''After last summer's tour, I know I can perform at that level,'' he said.

''It is like having a bit of a peek around the door. I'd like to think I can prove that I should be through that door in the longer term, but first I'm just concentrating on tomorrow's game.''

Indeed, any danger of anyone in the Glasgow Caledonians camp not doing that was well and truly extinguished by last week's first shock of the Heineken Cup, when the Dubliners beat English champions Leicester in their opening match.

They have suffered a setback since, with Ireland lock Malcolm O'Kelly joining former All Black scrum half Stu Forster on the sidelines after suffering a neck injury against Leicester.

That is slightly offset, however, by the reintroduction of Gary Halpin, the prop having recovered from a bout of flu to be among five internationalists in their starting line-up.

As Bulloch said, however: ''Forget their result last week, this is a must-win game for us.''

That is certainly true if the Reds are to make any sort of impression in Europe this season.

The home back-line is bolstered by the return of veteran midfielder Ian Jardine, while the back row is freshened up with Jon Petrie and South African Roland Reid replacing Marty Waite and McFadyen.

With home advantage and 10 internationalists on the pitch, the Reds should start as slight favourites. Defeat would make the forthcoming back-to-back meetings with Leicester next month a pretty daunting proposition, however. Teams:

Glasgow Caledonians - G Metcalfe; A Bulloch, J Stuart, I Jardine, S Longstaff; T Hayes, A Nicol; D Hilton, G Bulloch, G McIlwham, S Campbell, J White, J Petrie, R Reid, G Simpson. Replacements: B Irving, I McInroy, F Stott, F Stott, M Waite, D Burns, A Watt, G Scott

Leinster - G Dempsey; D Hickie, B O'Driscoll, S Horgan, P McKenna; M McHugh, D Hegarty; E Byrne, S Byrne, G Halpin, R Casey, L Cullen, D O'Brien, L Toland, V Costello. Replacements: E Farrell, G Darcy, B Free, G Fulcher, R Corrigan, P Smyth, C McEntee