EDINBURGH have 17 players unavailable for today’s PRO14 match against Connacht because of international duty or injury, but they have been boosted by the return of Lewis Carmichael and Henry Pyrgos after concussion issues. Carmichael starts at lock, scrum-half Pyrgos is on the bench, and for both men the game will be their first since play resumed in August.

Jack Blain, normally a winger, is at full-back in just his second game for Richard Cockerill’s team.

“He understands the mechanisms of playing in the back three, but it’s a little bit of needs must, really, with Blair Kinghorn on Scotland duty and Damian Hoyland getting injured,” the head coach said. “That has accelerated Jack’s opportunity, but he’s a good young player, very quick and very good aerially.”

New signing Andries Ferreira, meanwhile, sits this one out but should come into the reckoning for next Sunday’s game at Scarlets. Having been told there was a freeze on recruitment, Cockerill was able to strike a deal with the South African lock only, he insisted, at the expense of other things.

“We needed a second row, especially with Grant Gilchrist and Fraser McKenzie being injured. The budget for him has come out of other budget, so we won’t be doing other things. Like eating. Or doing anything extra.”

Edinburgh have lost their opening two games in the league, and have now been defeated in their last five matches in all competitions. With a dozen changes from their last outing in Munster, they will need to gel quickly if they are to end that unwanted run.

Connacht are less badly affected by the international window, but are still without key players such as Bundee Aki, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham.

Edinburgh (v Connacht at BT Murrayfield, 7.35pm): J Blain; E Sau, J Johnstone, C Dean, J Farndale; J van der Walt, N Groom (captain); P Schoeman, M Willemse, W Nel, L Carmichael, A Davidson, M Bradbury, A Miller, M Kunavula. Substitutes: D Cherry, J Bhatti, M McCallum, J Hodgson, C Boyle, H Pyrgos, N Chamberlain, G Taylor.

Connacht: J Porch; S Arnold, T Farrell, T Daly, A Wootton; C Fitzgerald, C Blade; D Buckley, S Delahunt, J Aungier, E Masterson, G Thornbury, P Boyle, J Butler (captain), A Papali’i. Substitutes: J Murphy, P McAllister, D Robertson-McCoy, C Prendergast, C Oliver, C Reilly, P Robb, T O’Halloran.

Referee: A Jones (Wales).