Edinburgh Rugby players have been challenged to stake their claim for selection in a "season-defining month" for the club ahead of Sunday’s clash with Glasgow Warriors at Firhill (kick-off 5.35pm).
There are 13 changes to the squad for the New Year’s Day derby which, following the clubs’ 23-all draw at Murrayfield on Boxing Day, will see the winner in Glasgow take home the 1872 Cup.
Head coach Michael Bradley believes the home of the club’s west-coast rivals is the perfect place to start a month where the club, currently top of Heineken Cup Pool 2, will strive for the knockout rounds of European competition between two crucial home matches in the RaboDirect PRO12.
He said: “Sunday will be very different to our match at Murrayfield, with the tighter confines of Firhill and the importance of challenging our whole squad ahead of a season defining month, influencing our approach.
“After Glasgow we have a five-day turnaround to an important home match against Ulster before we return to Heineken Cup rugby. The challenge for us as coaches is to get the best out of our squad over the course of this crucial period.
“It speaks volumes for the squad that we’re in a position to field another very strong side in our second match against Glasgow, with an opportunity for these players to show they deserve to be part of another huge month for Edinburgh Rugby.
“There’s plenty of experience in this squad who are very motivated by this opportunity to perform and are confident in their ability to go one better than their colleagues this Sunday.”
Scotland capped Simon Webster, Alan MacDonald and Phil Godman all return to the front-line along side some of this season’s top performers – Stuart McInally (number 8), Tom Brown (wing) and Matt Scott (centre).
The return of Jim Thompson and John Houston from injury completes the back-line while Andrew Kelly, one of the club’s most seasoned players with 150 competitive appearances, returns to the front-row between Kyle Traynor and Jack Gilding.
At lock, Esteban Lozada partners Steven Turnbull, while Netani Talei completes the back-row alongside McInally and MacDonald.
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Glasgow Warriors at Firhill on Sunday 1 January (kick-off 5.35pm) – live on BBC ALBA.
13 Matt Scott
12 John Houston
11 Tom Brown
10Phil Godman CAPTAIN
9 Chris Leck
2 Andrew Kelly
3 Jack Gilding
4 Steven Turnbull
5 Esteban Lozada
6 Stuart McInally
7 Alan MacDonald
8 Netani Talei
16 Alun Walker
17 Robin Hislop
18 Lewis Niven
19 Grant Gilchrist
20 Ross Rennie
21 Mike Blair
22 Harry Leonard
23 Lee Jones