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Gray's a special player - Johnson

Jonny Gray can still force his way into Scotland's RBS 6 Nations squad, according to caretaker head coach Scott Johnson.

The 20-year-old lock has been named in the Scotland A squad to face England Saxons at home club Glasgow's Scotstoun Stadium on Friday, January 31.

Scotland take on Ireland in the Six Nations opener two days later in Dublin, ruling Gray out of the first round of championship action.

Johnson said a strong performance against the Saxons could easily fire Gray back into the senior squad though, as he continues his recovery from ankle problems.

"Jonny played Test footy in the autumn. He's had significant ankle trouble and is on his way back," Johnson said.

"He's a wonderful player, a special player. You'll be talking about him in years to come.

"So he's part of the growth and development of this Scottish nation.

"Anyone who plays well in that match, they will have a chance, so it's important for us."

Clermont boss Vern Cotter will take the head coach reins from Johnson in the summer.

Former Ospreys coach Johnson will move across to become director of rugby when Cotter arrives, but he insists those changes will not affect Scotland's Six Nations campaign or their long-term development.

"Everyone can see we have a limited player base," Johnson said.

"We can see that as a negative or we can try to draw positives out of it.

"We've had to expand the base, and we're doing that.

"Unlike some of the other teams, we've been at the mercy of injury at times.

"But I want to draw on the strengths that we're close and it keeps us together.

"We've probably capped into the high teens of new players in the past year."

He continued: "Hopefully, by the time we get to the World Cup we'll have a big base of players to pick from.

"Yes that puts pressure on players, but that's not a bad thing. We're a team and a squad developing. We know where we are and where we sit.

"You've got to be honest with players: we've got things to work hard on in order to get better. We've got to build consistency because it's the only way we'll get better.

"I want us to do the things we do well, better, and concentrate on performance; and if that happens, results will come off the back of it."

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