John Dalziel is confident WP Nel won’t be a long term absentee from the Scotland squad despite being ruled out of the opening game of the Six Nations campaign against Wales on Saturday evening. 

And the Scotland coach isn’t worried about a lack of options at tighthead with Javan Sebastian brought back into the squad after returning from his own injury problems.

Nel was left at home while the rest of the squad travelled to Spain to undergo training before the start of the Six Nations campaign but he could return to the squad early next week and be in contention to face France at BT Murrayfield. Nel suffered a neck injury while playing for Edinburgh and has been dealing with it for a few weeks, and Dalziel insists there’s no risks that can be taken in that situation and it’s a case of letting him rest up and heal.

Scotland don’t have an abundance of options at tighthead and veteran Nel would likely have been back up to Glasgow Warriors’ Zander Fagerson for the opener with Sebastian called into the squad as his replacement while Millar-Mills is also an option to be among the substitutes in Cardiff this weekend.

And Dalziel said: “The decision will be made with the medical team, but there’s no point rushing somebody with a neck. He’s in the best position, being at home at the moment, to be assessed fully with the wait to travel and all the other discomforts that come with that. 

“We’re hoping by the time we get back from Wales, Saturday evening, Sunday, that we get good news and we’re back to a full and healthy squad again for next week.

“This is something he’s had for three or four weeks. It’s one of them things - we just have to make sure it settles at the right time. And hopefully not travelling and not being part of a robust week, he’ll settle quicker.

“Yeah Javan could play if called upon. Last week coming into it, it was going to be touch and go, so we’re a lot more confident now as he has finished last week in full training and he’s started this week.

“So for me there’s no concern should we need him. He’s fit and available for selection. That’s a better position than we were in at the tail end of last week, so that’s great.”

Millar-Mills remains uncapped at the age of 31 but the English born former Edinburgh man has been impressing with Northampton Saints in the English Premiership this season and earned himself a call up to the squad for the tournament.

Gregor Townsend could hand him a debut this weekend with Nel’s injury and Dalziel insists he’s there on merit and not just because there’s a shortage of options in that position, and he’s confident he could take any opportunity thrown his way because of the form he’s showing this season at club level.

He added: “He had the previous spells at Edinburgh. We knew about his credentials around scrummaging, which is a massive point of difference for him. His ability to express himself outside of set-piece is something that he’s grown.

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“He’s been in a number of environments from Wasps to Northampton and he’s had to learn a lot of stuff. Along the way, he’s picked up so many valuable lessons about what the level is about. He’s in fantastic form for Northampton, in terms of his ball carrying and ability to support breakdowns and the key ingredients for a tight-head at international level.

“We’ve chatted to him for a long time and I think he’s playing his best rugby now. He’s young for a tight-head in terms of what can happen. He’s come and added a lot and he’s merited selection. Other guys could have been here but he’s the guy in good form and playing well. We’ve been really impressed by him over the last two weeks.

“He’s playing for Northampton, one of the best teams in the Premiership, so there’s no doubt at all about his credentials.”

Rory Darge is another name that has had to deal with injuries recently after suffering a knee problem against Edinburgh over the festive period, and there had been concerns over whether he would be available for the Six Nations. Townsend’s decision to appoint him as one of the two co-captains alongside Finn Russell boosted hopes he would be available and he’s set to be given every possible opportunity to be fit and available for Saturday night, but he could be forced to wait until the visit of France next weekend.

Dalziel added: “It was great to have Rory back in last week and with the support of the club and national medical team it was great to get him assessed. He’s completely on track, we’ve put no timescales on him. We just want to make sure he’s available for either game one or game two. He’s progressed brilliantly, he’s run well today so there will be a decision on that. Tomorrow will be a key day on whether it’s next week or this weekend.

“There’s always been a shared leadership no matter who the captain is. We rely on the leadership group and someone with Rory Darge’s talent for instance, being a young man doesn’t go against him, he’s always been part of that leadership group and we feel the next stage is for him to take a bit on his shoulders. That blend with Finn where you’ve got all the key strengths on what he brings as a rugby player and the way he can lead. He leads in a different way so we look at that contrast and it frees Finn up to lead in meetings and chat more about the bigger picture so that’s been great. The blend is excellent but these two guys are supported as well by the likes of Jamie Ritchie and Grant Gilchrist.

“Our leadership is strong and we’ve got to grow that base so we can have leaders coming together at key moments in test matches and not just one voice, it’s really tough in the modern game to have that weigh on one person.”