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Gregor Townsend believes Alex Dunbar can make the difference for Glasgow

Published 15/01/2016

Alex Dunbar returns from injury to start at centre for Glasgow against Northampton on Saturday
Alex Dunbar returns from injury to start at centre for Glasgow against Northampton on Saturday

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend hopes the return of Scotland centre Alex Dunbar can help salvage the Warriors' European ambitions.

A heavy defeat to French big guns Racing 92 in Paris last week has left the Scotstoun side's hopes of reaching the Champions Cup quarter-finals for the first time hanging by a thread.

They require victory in their final two matches - Saturday's trip to Northampton and next week's return against Racing - if they are to avoid another pool stage disappointment.

But Townsend hopes having Dunbar - who starts alongside debutant Sam Johnson in the midfield - prominent in his back division will improve their chances.

The head coach said: "We were disappointed to lose last weekend's game in Paris, but Sunday is a new challenge for us and we're looking forward to the game at Franklin's Gardens.

"It will be a great atmosphere in a fantastic rugby stadium, and we're well aware of the challenge we face in our penultimate pool match.

"We've been boosted by the return of Alex Dunbar and we're looking forward to seeing Sam Johnson make his first start for the club."

Townsend's line-up sees Stuart Hogg once again named at full-back, with Lee Jones replacing Taqele Naiyaravoro on the right wing and Sean Lamont continuing on the opposite side.

Dunbar and Johnson are in the Warriors midfield, while Finn Russell returns to his natural role at stand-off after last week's run out at centre, with Duncan Weir dropping to the bench. Young scrum-half Ali Price keeps his place in the starting line-up.

In the pack Gordon Reid and Pat MacArthur continue at loose-head and hooker respectively, while Sila Puafisi comes in for Zander Fagerson at tight-head.

Leone Nakarawa and Jonny Gray once again start in the Warriors engine room.

It's the same back-row which started last weekend, with Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro and Adam Ashe combining.

Tim Swinson, Simone Favaro and Grayson Hart all return from injury and are named amongst the replacements.

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