RYAN Grant, the Scotland prop forward, will be out of action for up to a month - but should still be available for the Rugby World Cup according to Vern Cotter. Grant damaged an ankle in last week’s defeat by Ireland, but no bones were broken and he is now making a good recovery, according to the head coach.

“He’s given it a pretty nasty tweak and it will be a month, I’d say, until he comes through,” Cotter said yesterday after naming his team to play Italy in Turin on Saturday. “Three weeks to a month. We’ve got another two weeks to make an evaluation, but the doc is pretty positive that he’ll be all right. There is no fracture, he’s given it a good stretch, so it will just take a while.”

Scotland’s first match in the World Cup is on 23 September against Japan, with the second game against the USA four days later. It may be touch and go for Grant to be involved in the opener, but Cotter is clear in his mind that the Glasgow player will be available for the tournament. “Oh, he can play in the World Cup,” the coach added. “He can play.”

John Hardie, the openside flanker who has yet to play a competitive match since moving from New Zealand, is one of three new caps in the starting line-up announced by Cotter. Rory Hughes, the Glasgow winger, and Stuart McInally, the Edinburgh flanker, will also make their Test debuts in Turin. Two more uncapped Edinburgh players, the prop WP Nel and the back-three player Damien Hoyland, are on the bench.

There are 11 changes from last week in the team to play Italy announced by Cotter yesterday. Grant Gilchrist, the captain this week, is the only member of the pack to retain his place, while behind the scrum Greig Tonks, Sean Lamont and Richie Vernon also get another run out. Tonks, who started at stand-off in Dublin, is at full-back this time.

“This is another chance to give opportunities to players and allow us to have a good look at our squad, be it those who haven’t played or are playing in different positions,” Cotter said. “The Irish game was an open, fairly fluid affair for the most part, but I think the Italy game will be a tighter battle, so we’ll be looking, perhaps, to play a bit differently. A lot of players put their hands up last week and we’re expecting the same of this group.”