Injuries add to Scotland's worries

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Scotland's obvious Six Nations problems were compounded today when it emerged that Alasdair Strokosch, their France-based flanker, might have played his last rugby of the tournament. Strokosch lasted only 13 minutes at Twickenham before giving best to an eye injury quickly diagnosed as a fractured orbit.

With two other loose forwards, the No 8 Johnnie Beattie and the substitute back-rower David Denton, ending the game with ankle and knee problems respectively, selection for this weekend's home game with Italy could be something of a trial. Richie Vernon of Sale and Robert Harley of Glasgow have been added to the squad.

At least the coach, Scott Johnson, will not have to waste time pondering his full-back options. If his side took anything away from Twickenham, it was the knowledge that Stuart Hogg is a Lions tourist in the making – even though the No 15 position is certain to be one of the most hotly contested ahead of this summer's British Isles series in Australia.

"Stuart is a talented kid and he did wonderfully well out there," said Johnson, whose views were echoed by the England coach Stuart Lancaster. But for Hogg's attacking interventions in either half – he split the red-rose defence in running back a loose kick from the wing Mike Brown to manufacture an early try for the debutant Sean Maitland and then scored himself a few minutes from time – Scotland might have been staring at a record defeat.

With the Azzurri heading towards Edinburgh for the dogfight against opponents they know they can beat, Johnson has no time to twiddle his thumbs. If the interim coach makes the wrong calls up front, his prospects of landing the job full-time will be far from great.