Gregor Townsend 'cannot' pick Finn Russell - Danny Care

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'Of course Russell can play a part in the future' - Townsend

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend "cannot pick" fly-half Finn Russell in this Six Nations, says Danny Care.

Russell, who has missed Scotland's first two Six Nations matches for "breaching team protocol", told the Sunday Times he "doesn't have a personal relationship" with Townsend.

England scrum-half Care said Russell had "stoked the fires massively" and put his coach "under pressure".

"Who is more important, player or coach?" Care told Rugby Union Weekly.

"That is an issue Scottish rugby is going to have to deal with because he is their best player.

"He has put a pressure on Gregor Townsend now that I do not think he can possibly pick him."

However, Care says the door may not be permanently shut for the 27-year-old.

"They may be able to mend their bridges when the dust has settled," he added.

"I think if Finn had been on the pitch against England they may have won the game because they will have tried something different to batter down England's line rather than just picking and going.

"Their pack is not as big or as dynamic as England and they got hit backwards."

Those comments are echoed by England winger Chris Ashton, who says the situation would not have happened if the Racing 92 fly-half was still playing at Glasgow Warriors.

"Because he is at Racing, where they love him, and he is playing well with a freedom, he is thinking, 'Why do I have to go and listen to a man I have no respect for?'" he said.

"He is getting paid an awful lot of money compared to what the other Scottish lads are getting, he feels wanted and comfortable and he is loving his rugby in France."

Scotland are fifth in the table after losing their opening two games to Ireland and England, and they face bottom side Italy in their next match on Saturday, 22 February (14:15 GMT).

Townsend, who was expecting to meet with Russell before his side's meeting with the Azzurri, still hopes Russell will play for him again.

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