Townsend names seven uncapped Scots in Six Nations squad

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Edinburgh (AFP)

Head coach Gregor Townsend has named seven uncapped players in his 39-man Scotland squad for the Six Nations, which starts next month.

Three hookers -- Edinburgh's David Cherry, Leicester's Jake Kerr and Grant Stewart of Glasgow -- have been handed call-ups following injuries to Fraser Brown and George Turner.

They are joined by Newcastle back-row Gary Graham, Glasgow's tighthead prop D'Arcy Rae and centre Sam Johnson, while centre Chris Dean of Edinburgh is also selected.

Newcastle back-row John Hardie makes his return to a Scotland squad for the first time since the 2018 Six Nations, while stalwarts Jonny Gray and Tommy Seymour could rack up their half centuries of caps after also being named in Townsend's selection.

Scotland kick off their championship campaign at home to Italy on February 2 and Townsend is looking to improve on last year's third-placed finish.

"There's certainly been a lot of improvement from this group of players in recent seasons and I believe there's much more to come," he said. "They've a genuine desire to get better and reach their potential in what is a huge year for our sport.

"In the past 18 months we've played 18 Test matches and have introduced 18 new players to Test-level rugby. Once again, our squad features players aiming to take that step, which is a testimony to their performances this season and the growing strength in depth of Scottish rugby."

Scotland squad

Forwards: Alex Allan (Glasgow), Adam Ashe (Glasgow), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow), David Cherry (Edinburgh), Allan Dell (Edinburgh), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Gary Graham (Newcastle), Jonny Gray (Glasgow), John Hardie (Newcastle/ENG), Jake Kerr (Leicester), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), D'Arcy Rae (Glasgow), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Sam Skinner (Exeter/ENG), Grant Stewart (Glasgow), Josh Strauss (Sale/ENG), Tim Swinson (Glasgow), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow)

Backs: Chris Dean (Edinburgh), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Nick Grigg (Glasgow), Sam Johnson (Glasgow), Chris Harris (Newcastle/ENG), Adam Hastings (Glasgow), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow), George Horne (Glasgow), Pete Horne (Glasgow), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Lee Jones (Glasgow), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (capt, Clermont/FRA), Sean Maitland (Saracens/ENG), Ali Price (Glasgow), Finn Russell (Racing 92/FRA), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow)