Scotland welcome back Lana Skeldon and Chloe Rollie to their side that will play England in front of a sell-out crowd at Hive Stadium in round three of the Guinness Women’s Six Nations on Saturday.  

Skeldon missed the defeat to France after picking up a knee injury in the championship opener in Wales, replaces Elis Martin in the starting line-up, while Rollie is in for Lisa Thomson in a reshuffled back division that sees Meryl Smith shift to inside centre.  

Easson is pleased to have Skeldon, the squad’s most experienced player, back fit as they prepare to face the world number one side.  

He said: “It’s a huge boost. She is playing at Bristol with the likes of Hannah Botterman and Abbie Ward, so there’s a bit of familiarity, which is really positive. 

"She’s probably a bit of an unsung hero.” 

Scotland Rugby News: Scotland hooker Lana Skeldon returns from a knee injuryScotland hooker Lana Skeldon returns from a knee injury (Image: SNS)

After starting the first two games at fullback, Easson added it was important to keep Smith – another who plays her club rugby with Bristol – in the starting XV.

Thomson was released to play for GB 7s in Hong Kong last weekend, so is on the bench this weekend. 

Easson added: “Meryl has been good - I’ve been really impressed.  

“I think Lisa Thomson has been excellent in the last two games, but she is in the GB squad, the Olympics are the real drive for her this year and rightly so.  

“We had a long conversation prior to the Six Nations and we knew that Hong Kong was a really good opportunity for her to push herself into that GB squad, and we were happy with that.  

“Having Meryl who has played 12, having Chloe who is extremely experienced anyway, it’s nice to know that if you lose somebody like Lisa you still have top-class quality players coming on.” 

READ MORE: Sell-out crowd reward for hard work, says Chloe Rollie

Elsewhere, Rachel McLachlan and Francesca McGhie are set to make their first appearances of the campaign having overcome an ankle injury and illness, respectively. 

On the return of Sale back-row McLachlan, one of 19 of the matchday 23 to play in the Premiership Women’s Rugby, Easson said: “Rachel has been out for a while - Alex Stewart has taken her chance.”  

McGhie’s Scotland performances last year earned her a nomination for World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of the Year, and Easson is similarly pleased to have her back after a period of illness.  

Scotland Rugby News: Francesca McGhie is back for ScotlandFrancesca McGhie is back for Scotland (Image: SNS)

“Fran has been playing really well at Leicester. She had an illness that just wasn’t going away, so we made sure she was 100% before coming back.” 

The Scotland head coach said the changes show the level of competition among the 30-strong squad, of which only Beth Blacklock was unavailable for selection. 

He added: "Every week that they play, they borrow the jersey - it’s not theirs, and if somebody else is playing well enough, that’s how we can go.” 

The teams

Scotland: Chloe Rollie, Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Meryl Smith, Coreen Grant, Helen Nelson, Caity Mattinson; Leah Bartlett, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Louise McMillan, Rachel Malcolm (captain), Alex Stewart, Evie Gallagher  

Replacements: Elis Martin, Molly Wright, Elliann Clarke, Fiona McIntosh, Rachel McLachlan, Mairi McDonald, Lisa Thomson, Francesca McGhie  

England: Ellie Kildunne, Abby Dow, Megan Jones, Tatyana Heard, Jess Breach, Holly Aitchison, Natasha Hunt; Hannah Botterman, Amy Cokayne, Maud Muir, Rosie Galligan, Abbie Ward, Zoe Aldcroft (captain), Sadia Kabeya, Alex Matthew  

Replacements: Connie Powell, Mackenzie Carson, Kelsey Clifford, Maddie Feaunati, Marlie Packer, Lucy Packer, Zoe Harrison, Sydney Gregson