IT should be a day for breakthroughs as Glasgow Warriors take on Leinster at Scotstoun this afternoon. On the field, there is James Malcolm, the academy hooker, making his first start for the club as they try to find answers to the injury crisis in his position; Alex Dunbar is looking for a change in his run of foul luck; and Mike Blair is set to make history as the first player to have a microphone sewn into his kit so that every word he says during the game can be recorded by the TV broadcasters and possibly relayed to the world.

There is also the small matter of needing to beat Leinster, the only team to win the tournament in successive seasons – a feat they have also achieved in Europe – so that Glasgow can get back into the top four ahead of the highly competitive festive period, when they face five European Champions Cup matches on either side of the annual scraps that are the 1872 Cup derby matches with Edinburgh.

All this, when Gregor Townsend, the head coach, admits the side have not been playing with the fluency he would like, even though they have been winning, claiming 14 of the possible 15 points from their three Guinness PRO12 matches since the World Cup internationals came back to the club.

"The weather will be a factor again," he said. "The forecast is predicting wet and windy conditions that will definitely change the way the teams play. There is no resting of players for this game; it is a very important match for us. Some players were rested last week after coming back from the World Cup but this is what we believe is our most competitive team to win this game."

He is still battling an injury list of 15 players, including all four of the hookers he had at the start of the season. However, with Shalva Mamukashvili, the Georgian, now up to speed with a couple of starts, Townsend has used the chance to give Malcolm a go from the beginning.

"It is a big chance, a real opportunity for him," Townsend said. "He came on and did very well last week. It is a great opportunity for him to put all the work he has been doing since pre-season into a complete performance. We are really looking forward to seeing him.

"He is very hard working, tough – so the parts of the game you really want players to excel in, defence, clearing in contact, fitness, he does that well. He moved from prop to hooker only two or three years ago, so there are areas he has had to work on but he has done really well. It is a credit to his work ethic."

On the other side, after being taken off after only 54 minutes last week, Finn Russell, the Scotland fly-half, has failed to make the starting XV and has to settle for a place on the bench. In poor weather against Benetton Treviso, he struggled for tactical control and with this week likely to be as bad, or worse, it logical to go with the more rounded kicking game that Duncan Weir brings.

At least they will have the chance to continue with Alex Dunbar's return to full match fitness after a year he would rather forget about. After wrecking his knee during a training ground job in March, he then missed the World Cup when it suffered a small relapse. When Dunbar did eventually make his comeback in mid-October, he won the man of the match award but was also also ruled out until last week with damaged ribs.

"I was delighted to be coming back from the knee, so then to pick up another knock just as I was about to come off was pretty tough for a couple of weeks," he said. "It was my last carry, I just spun out of a tackle, landed awkwardly and players landed on top of me. It has been hard, but I am looking forward to getting out there, playing as much as possible and hope this time I stay injury-free.

"We have had a few tough games against Leinster. You play against teams like that, and see the calibre of the players they have, and you are still learning things from the game and from analysing them afterwards. There are games where it has been close and we have just missed out, times it has been close and we have just snuck over the line. They are really competitive games every time we play them."

For Dunbar, the main thing is to get back to match fitness to try to cement his club place against three rivals from the recent Scotland World Cup squad, Peter Horne, Mark Bennett and Richie Vernon. Then there is the question of trying to convert that into a Scotland spot with Matt Scott and Duncan Taylor adding to the competition.

Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg; T Naiyaravoro, A Dunbar, P Horne, T Seymour; D Weir, M Blair; R Grant, J Malcolm, S Puafisi, L Nakarawa, J Gray (C), J Strauss, S Favaro, A Ashe. Replacements: S Mamukashvili, J Yanuyanutawa, Z Fagerson, T Swinson, R Harley, A Price, F Russell, S Lamont.

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, B Te'o, L Fitzgerald, D Kearney; I Madigan, E Reddan; C Healy, R Strauss, M Moore, T Denton, M McCarthy, R Ruddock (C), J van der Flier, J Murphy. Replacements: S Cronin, P Dooley, T Furlong, R Molony, D Ryan, I Boss, C Marsh, G Ringrose.

Referee: N Owens (Wales)