SCOTLAND assistant coach Mike Blair has backed any one of Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie or Blade Thomson to double-up in back-to-back matches against Russia and Japan next week if required

With those two games just four days apart - on Wednesday October 9 and Sunday October 13th - it would be a huge ask, but Scotland only have five authentic breakaways in their 31-man squad so some tough selection decisions are going to have to be made.

Bradbury, Ritchie and Thomson travelled to Japan as second-choice players, behind the more experienced combination of John Barclay, Hamish Watson (now injured) and Ryan Wilson. However, after the team’s heavy defeat to Ireland in their tournament opener there was changing of the guard, and the new men grabbed their opportunity with both hands, bringing real energy and menace to the pack to set the tone for a convincing victory over Samoa which reignited Scotland's push for quarter-final qualification.

While coach Gregor Townsend is bound to give Barclay [who has recovered from a tight groin which kept him out of training at the tail-end of last week] and Wilson a run-out against Russia, he will need a third body to start that game as well as some cover on the bench.

Hooker Fraser Brown has played there before and is a viable stop-gap option, but at least one of Ritchie, Bradbury or Thomson will also have to be involved.

"I think a lot of teams are in the same situation at this World Cup where there's a four or five-day turnaround. That's how the tournament was structured and we've known that for a long time so we've had that in our minds,” said Blair. "It doesn't keep everyone on a level playing field but that's what happens so we'll deal with it.

“It’s going to be a challenge but also you look at those players who played on Monday night and they are exceptional. Maggy [Bradbury] pulled up a little bit with maybe 15 minutes or so to go but he hasn't played a huge amount of rugby and he looked excellent in that first 65 minutes.

"Blade as well, I believe it's the first time he's played 80 minutes in four or five seasons or something like that, and he looked brilliant throughout. With Jamie, there was a chance he wasn't going to be able to make it with the [cheek] surgery he had, and he was exceptional as well.

"These are guys who are able to back-up games; it's not the ideal situation and there are potentially other positions it might have to happen in as well, but we are really confident in the ability of these guys to back-up."

Meanwhile, Blair confirmed that with Barclay back in training, the only other injury concern in the squad is loose-head prop Allan Dell, who is working his way through the head injury return to play protocol.

“We have obviously got a bit of momentum from the Samoa game there,” added Blair. “We were really pleased with our start in that game, that gives us momentum. I think we had seven or eight phases of really good defence with our second-rows pushing up and making big hits two or three times, pushing them back so that they kicked the ball to us, so we could transition and get on top of them. That is a great way to start the game.

“The plan was to keep them to zero for the first quarter, that extended to the 80, but being able to apply that pressure meant not giving them any easy ins to the game.

“Against Ireland, we had a firm belief in what we were trying to do against them and felt that if we had executed that, we would have won the game. It didn't work out like that and we are really disappointed. Rugby is about basics and if you do the basics really well, you are going to be in every game you play.”