Glasgow Warriors could have Sione Tuipulotu back sooner than expected with the centre ahead of schedule in his injury rehab.

The Scotland star had suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury during the Six Nations and Franco Smith had revealed he could be out of action for up to 12 weeks, but now a return could come quicker than that.

The Scotstoun side are also without Huw Jones - who has a hand injury – and Glasgow remain unsure how long he will be absent. 

While Tuipulotu is back running, Glasgow assistant coach Peter Murchie didn’t want to put any specific time on his return. 

However, he did confirm that he should be available before the June date originally suggested.

He said: “He’s doing well. He’s running, looking strong and seems confident around it. It’s still to be determined [when he will be back] but he’s looking positive. You don’t want to get too far ahead and start to jinx things. But he’s ahead of schedule given the previous timeframe.

“[Huw is] still the same. We’re still waiting for an update.”

Scotland Rugby News: Glasgow Warriors coach Peter Murchie

Glasgow will have Scotland internationals Zander Fagerson, Kyle Rowe, Scott Cummings and George Turner all fit and firing this weekend while Jack Dempsey and Kyle Steyn will get a break having played in the Six Nations and then featured in Friday's comeback win over Cardiff.

The hope is to then have the whole squad back and available for the Champions Cup tie with Harlequins on April 5. 

While knockout European rugby is just around the corner, Murchie stressed the URC games were just as important, but said the Scotland players needed a break after the Six Nations.

He continued: “It’s just about managing that period, guys who have played different amounts of games. We had some guys who weren’t in last week who are back and some guys who played last week who won’t be available this week.

“So it’s about managing that process on a case-by-case basis, what the player needs at that time. Ultimately we’ll have everyone back soon which will be good.

“You’ve got two options. Either you give everyone time off at the same time or you do it staggered.

“Ultimately it was about managing the squad to win these two URC games – Cardiff last Friday and now Scarlets. It just so happens that everyone will be available for that Harlequins game but the URC games are very important to us too.”

Glasgow are battling at the top of the URC and hoping to win a second title, having beaten Munster to win the title in 2015. 

On that occasion Murchie was part of the playing squad, while now he’s part of Smith’s backroom team. The former Ayr head coach believes there are similarities on and off the pitch.

READ MORE: Scotland reach all-time high in world rankings after Wales win

That year, Alex Dunbar suffered a season-ending injury in the Six Nations against England and Glasgow went into the playoffs with Pete Horne and Richie Vernon in midfield. 

This time, it’s Jones and Tuipulotu who are in the treatment room for Glasgow and Stafford McDowall and Tom Jordan are stepping in to play in those positions.

McDowall has played there regularly but Jordan has been used more as a fly-half by the Warriors despite also having experience in the centre.

The youngsters in the squad are providing strong back up to the more experienced players too and Smith has been using his squad well to ensure that players can step in without there being any issues.

“I’m on a different side as a coach so naturally it feels different that way”, admitted Murchie.

“But the obvious similarity would be the trust in the squad. We rotated the team back then and it’s similar now.

“I’m not going to project that we’re on that target to win a title as ultimately that’s down to us and how we deliver in these next three months. This group needs to determine that. But the way that we’re willing to give young players an opportunity to step up is a definite parallel with that era.

Scotland Rugby News: Glasgow Warriors head coach Franco Smith

“Obviously you want to be involved in the business end of both competitions with an important game against Scarlets this week in terms of what we want to achieve and then go into next week's game with Harlequins.

“So whether you’re young or have played every match for Scotland, we’ve shown that we’re not scared to give guys opportunities like Gregor Hiddleston away to Exeter. Everyone should feel they can contribute and play in these big games. That can only lead to good things.

“[The Cardiff win] was an important part of the learning process. Sometimes you can be in the team when they’re on a winning run, winning three or four games and they’re thinking, ‘so this is what it’s like’.

“And then you come up against an opponent who were really in a good place and things don’t go your way and you have to fight a way through it. Whether it’s our maul not taking opportunities or some other defensive set-up – whatever it is, it’s not always a straight line.

“Especially for those young guys who need to learn that there will sometimes be bumps in the road.

"It’s an important part of their development that they have a tough 40 minutes and learn a lot about themselves.”