THE announcement of the first Scotland squad of the season is always a time of optimism and anticipation for supporters as they look forward to the autumn internationals. For the coaches of Glasgow and Edinburgh, however, it has to be the occasion for some gnawing anxiety as they work out just how depleted their squads are going to be over the ensuing weeks.

This year, with six Tests to be played by the national team between Friday week and early December, that anxiety is surely higher than ever. Head coaches Danny Wilson and Richard Cockerill have lost 14 men each to Gregor Townsend’s 40-strong Scotland squad, Fiji coach Vern Cotter has called up Leone Nakarawa and Mesu Dolokoto from the Warriors and Mesu Kunavula from Edinburgh, and Glasgow’s Argentina tighthead Enrique Pieretto is also on national duty.

Once you factor in injuries, it becomes clear that both Scottish teams will go into a crucial run of league fixtures while lacking more or less an entire matchday squad; other Pro14 sides will also suffer from international call-ups, of course, but few so severely.

Some of the injured, such as Edinburgh’s Bill Mata and Glasgow’s Kyle Steyn, might well have been on international duty in any case had they been fit. One or two others should be back for the next round of games later this month, but as ever there are no guarantees.

So, presuming the teams were meeting this Saturday in the first 1872 Cup game of the season, without their international call-ups and injuries, how would they line up? Starting with Glasgow, the clear advantage they have is the versatility of several backs. Tommy Seymour can play at full-back or on the wing, Stafford McDowall at 12, 13 and 10, Pete Horne at 12 or 10, and Matawalu at scrum-half or on the wing. Rufus McLean could also come into the reckoning, more likely on the wing than as a full-back, Ratu Tagive should have an extended run on the left wing, Brandon Thomson will be at stand-off and Robbie Nairn and Paddy Kelly should also feature at times.

In the pack, Aki Seiuli deserves an extended run at loosehead now Oli Kebble is Scotland-qualified, and will be backed up by Alex Allan and George Thornton. Johnny Matthews and Grant Stewart will fight it out for the No 2 jersey, and D’Arcy Rae should be at tighthead ahead of Adam Nicol.

Lock is the weakest link. Even presuming that Kiran McDonald will be fit again after just missing out on Sunday’s win over Scarlets, Hamish Bain is the only other out-and-out second row among the senior ranks. Ryan Wilson, again omitted by Scotland, could move up from the back row, but that would be robbing Peter to pay Paul. Better, surely, to have Wilson at No 8 with Tongan international Fotu Lokotui at blindside and Tom Gordon at openside, with loan signing TJ Ioane covering across the back row.

Over at Edinburgh, with Damien Hoyland having been called up along with Blair Kinghorn, the worries start at 15. The solution? Find a player who can do a Huw Jones and convert from centre, where Cockerill has all four of his regular starters available to him. George Taylor looks like he has many if not all of the attributes to be the last line of defence, though it could also be useful if a winger such as Jack Blain were to be tried out there.

With Eroni Sau and Jamie Farndale still around, the wingers pick themselves. At 10, Jaco van der Walt may be called up by Townsend when he becomes eligible next month, at which point Nathan Chamberlain will face a prolonged baptism of fire. At scrum-half, club vice-captain Nic Groom will be a vital player throughout this period. The Edinburgh front row looks solid enough, but there is a lack of depth in the back five of the pack, even if we decide that Magnus Bradbury would be fit to play this weekend after missing the loss in Munster.

Both teams have had some Scotland Sevens players seconded to them, and they also have the Academy to draw on. Making best use of their squads is always a key demand for a coach, but this season more than ever, Cockerill and Wilson will have to husband their resources particularly judiciously if their teams are going to flourish.

Leftover lineups:

Glasgow Warriors: G Bryce; T Seymour, S McDowall, P Horne, R Tagive; B Thomson, N Matawalu; A Seiuli, J Matthews, A Nicol, K McDonald, H Bain, F Lokotui, T Gordon, R Wilson.  

Edinburgh: G Taylor; J Farndale, M Bennett, C Dean, E Sau; J van der Walt, N Groom; P Schoeman, M Willemse, L Atalifo, J Hodgson, A Davidson, R Darge, C Boyle, M Bradbury.