Rory Darge’s Six Nations dreams have been revived after fears over a serious injury were allayed for the Glasgow Warriors star. 

The 23-year-old sustained a knee injury in the second leg of 1872 Cup against Edinburgh with Franco Smith ‘heartbroken’ that Darge faced a significant period on the sidelines. Gregor Townsend will name his initial Scotland squad next week and Darge is expected to be included after the diagnosis on his knee injury was positive. 

Darge’s involvement in Scotland’s opening game against Wales in Cardiff on February 3rd remains in the balance but Glasgow assistant coach Nigel Carolan revealed the good news over the flanker’s prospects.

“It’s only a mild strain on his MCL,” Carolan confirmed. Thankfully it’s not as bad as first feared. “It was a pretty nasty-looking injury at the time and we feared the worst but thankfully all the tests have come back really positive, so it’s only a matter of weeks as opposed to a matter of months as first feared. He’s certainly one we’re in a more positive mindset about.”

Glasgow has been decimated by injuries this season with 13 senior players currently unavailable for selection. The Warriors’ back-row options have been especially depleted recently with Darge, Matt Fagerson and Jack Dempsey all sidelined. 

The trio all featured for Scotland at the World Cup in France and Carolan had more positive injury news to share on Fagerson and Dempsey in a further boost to club and country - with club captain Kyle Steyn also nearing a return.

Asked whether the trio will be fit to be in contention for the Six Nations, Carolan replied: “With Darge, it is only a matter of weeks. He will miss this week, possibly next week, but from the following week on, he will be close to a return.  

“Jack Dempsey, if we can get him some game time…this week might be a bit early, but definitely next week he will be back in the picture for selection.  Those two guys will definitely be raring to go.They will all be back for Scotland and possibly for us before that.” 

"Jack Dempsey had a bang on the head and surgery on his skull. Kyle Steyn had syndesmosis after the Connacht game – another nasty injury. Matt Fagerson had an eye fracture. You can’t speed some of these things up with fractures. Bones need time to heal. But they have all worked really hard and been extremely diligent in their rehab.  

“The fact they are back ahead of time – and we have had medical staff working right through Christmas with these guys – they have gone over and above the basic level of rehab required. They are keen to get back. They know the Six Nations is just around the corner as well, which is a massive incentive. They probably feel that if they can get any exposure to game-time prior to the Six Nations, it is going to help them with selection and performance in that period.” 

Glasgow will be well represented in Townsend’s initial squad for the pre-tournament training camp in Spain. Stafford McDowall, Johnny Matthews and Kyle Rowe have been amongst Glasgow’s star performers this campaign and they will have ambitions to stake a claim for a starting berth against Wales despite all three having just one international cap.

“Guy like Stafford and Johnny Matthews have all done themselves favours since the World Cup and it will be interesting to see if there are vacancies for them in the Scotland squad,” Carolan admitted. “Johnny Matthews is another one where if it wasn’t for a couple of injuries over the last couple of years, he may not have had the level of opportunity he has had.

“He got a call-up to Scotland late during the World Cup and hopefully he might be involved in the Six Nations. He’s certainly answering questions on the field, playing really well and scoring tries on the back end of the mauls.

“Kyle Rowe has been a real dark horse for us. I saw his quality as a younger kid and the couple of games he had for London Irish prior to him coming back but he’s been superb. He’s a well rounded player, he’s nice and cool and calm, he’s got a good skill set, he’s got a kicking game, good under the high ball. He has qualities that suggest he could fill in at full-back.”

Conversations have taken place between Scotland boss Townsend and his Glasgow counterpart Smith over international players with Huw Jones on the agenda after deputising at wing due to the Warriors strength at centre.

“There’s dialogue between Gregor and Franco,” Carolan added. “We’ve been playing some guys out of position, like Huw Jones who has been on the wing for the last couple of games. You talk to Huw and he just wants to be on the pitch, he doesn’t mind if it’s on the wing or at centre and, for us, it’s about trying to accommodate him. 

“It can be a difficult thing to do when Stafford McDowall is playing so well, and also Sione Tuipulotu and Huw. They are three quality players and any team would be lucky to have them and it’s about trying to accommodate them in your match-day XV if not your 23.”