Gregor Townsend: Scotland have 'better depth' as Six Nations' injury list mounts
Scotland have more depth than ever to cope with injuries during their Six Nations campaign, says head coach Gregor Townsend.
A total of 20 players are unavailable for Scotland's opening match against Italy at Murrayfield on 2 February.
Edinburgh flanker Hamish Watson is the latest to be ruled out of at least the opening two fixtures - against Italy and Ireland - with a fractured hand.
"What we do have is much better depth than in recent seasons," Townsend said.
"Even though we have players missing, we have other players that have played for us already or are at the level they can play well for us."
After opening with two games at Murrayfield, Scotland travel to Paris to face France, then host Wales, before finishing away to England.
Townsend told BBC Sport he is hopeful "six or seven" players will recover in time to feature in those final three matches.
"We do have a number of players who will come back," he said. "Whether they are in the right condition to play against France, it will be a boost to know they are back for at least two, maybe three, games."
Captain John Barclay is among those on the injured list, but fellow Edinburgh flanker Watson could recover in time to play some part.
Other back-rowers Blade Thomson, David Denton and Matt Fagerson, plus front-rowers Fraser Brown, George Turner and Zander Fagerson are also among the casualties.
Despite the injury list Townsend maintains Scotland's ambition is to win the tournament, which he believes will be the toughest yet.
"It's unprecedented. You've got the second best team [Ireland] in the world who've been hugely consistent over the last couple of years under Joe [Schmidt]," Townsend added.
"Wales are on a great run and are the third best team in the world, England are the fourth best team and a year ago were on a run of 22 out of 23 wins. That shows the quality."
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