Franco Smith will be without Sione Tuipulotu for up to three months after he suffered a knee injury during last weekend’s Calcutta Cup victory for Scotland over England.

It means his Six Nations is definitely over but Smith is confident he will return before the end of the United Rugby Championship. There is good news for the Glasgow Warriors centre, with it being confirmed that he won’t need surgery for his MCL injury but he does face at least eight weeks on the sidelines, and potentially up to 12 weeks depending on how he reacts to treatment.

The URC is set to run until June 22 with the quarter finals starting on June 7, and the semi-finals a week later on June 15 and Tuipulotu should return by the middle of May, and it’s a similar story for Richie Gray. The veteran suffered a bicep injury in the win over Wales and he will also be out until then with Smith confirming his absence ahead of Saturday’s trip to Italy to face Benetton.

Warriors will also be without Jamie Bhatti for the game against Benetton after a weight was dropped on his foot in the gym - in what was described as a freak accident - but he isn’t expected to be out for any length of time and it’s a precaution in case he is needed by Gregor Townsend for Scotland duty.

READ MORE: Glasgow Warriors team vs Benetton revealed as Sebastian Cancelliere returns

He said: “Sione has got an MCL injury. I won’t use all medical terms but it’ll keep him off around 8 to 12 weeks. It all depends on how the first reaction to treatment is. There’s no operation needed though.

“Richie’s going to be out till at least the middle of May. He’s still a long way off.”

Both should return in time for the URC playoffs though with Smith adding: “It’s such a long time that you can literally break your leg and get back for the last part. That’s what Jack Mann did, unfortunately, and he’s already back running.

“It’s 16 weeks until the end of the competition - it’s a long time. You can get a hip replacement and still make it!”

Glasgow travel to Treviso for the clash against a Benetton side who haven’t lost at home all season and Smith has put them as favourites for this one, against a Glasgow side with a lot of youth in their team.

He’s made two changes to the team that defeated Dragons at Scotstoun two weeks ago and brings in Nathan MacBeth for Bhatti while Sebastian Cancelliere returns to the team from his own injury problems. That means Jamie Dobie moves back to his preferred scrum half position with Ben Afshar dropping to the bench.

MacBeth is joined by Scotland hooker Johnny Matthews and Luca Sordoni in the front row while Alex Samuel and Max Williamson partner each other in the second row once more. Euan Ferrie, Thomas Gordon and Hecto Venter complete the forwards. Dobie is joined by Ross Thompson in the half backs while Stafford McDowall captains from the midfield, alongside Tom Jordan with a back three of Cancelliere, Facundo Cordero and Josh McKay.

Smith continued: “Every game for us is a big one. We didn’t have a good game there in my first game, which feels like many years ago. I’m looking forward to going back there and take our best effort there. I think if we look at who is the favourites then it is definitely them having looked at their home record this season. They’ve only lost against us and Leinster, both away. They’ve recruited very well. I know from my experience there and from my time there and from the talk back then, they’ve really recruited well.

“They’ve brought Eli Snyman back which is an important part of their team. They’ve got a really good squad that substitutes the players away on international duty and although they have a lot away, there’s a lot of cohesion and continuity in the squad and they are well coached. The pressure is on them, they’d like to maintain their home record and we, as a young group, are just excited to kick on from what has happened against the Dragons and we know we’ll challenged a lot more. We’ll see if we can roll out another good performance from our side.”

Glasgow team to face Edinburgh:  J McKay, S Cancelliere, S McDowall, T Jordan, F Cordero, R Thompson, J Dobie, N MacBeth, J Matthews, L Sordoni, M Williamson, A Samuel, E Ferrie, T Gordon, H Venter

Replacements: G Hiddleston, A Dell, O Kebble, S Manjezi, A Miller, A Fraser, B Afshar, D Weir