Gregor Townsend has praised former captain Jamie Ritchie for his attitude as the Edinburgh flanker returns to the Scotland team for the Calcutta Cup match on Saturday.

Ritchie was deposed as captain before the championship with Townsend citing the competition for places in the back-row, and Ritchie’s form, as the primary reasons.

The 26-year-old started the win against Wales in Cardiff, but was then dropped for the defeat to France.

Now he’s back as one of three changes to face England and Townsend praised Ritchie for his response to losing the captaincy.

The Scotland coach said: “We talk to the group about working for your opportunity and being ready for it.

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“Harry Paterson got his on the morning of the game and we had full confidence that he’d go out and play well because he’s trained so well and looked like a Test player even though he’d never played Test rugby.

“It’s the same for guys who miss out on selection. You never know when your opportunity will come back but you have to work hard to get it and Jamie has done just that."

Ritchie replaces Matt Fagerson – who has been left out of the 23 completely having started against Wales and France. Townsend confirmed the Glasgow man is not injured, and said he considered a 6:2 split of fowards to backs on the bench to get Fagerson in his squad.

Townsend said: “It was tough for us to make that decision because Matt has been a really key member of our team.

“A lot of our thoughts on a 6-2 split was based on including someone like Matt in our 23, as well as how we expect the game will turn out in terms of a battle around the contact area.

“It underlines the competition we have in the back row that Matt misses out this week.”

Townsend expects a battle at the breakdown, with England selecting two opensides in Sam Underhill and Ben Earl, and has opted to match Steve Borthwick with Ritchie dovetailing co-captain Rory Darge.

He added: "He’s one of the best of the world at jackals. We’ve got another world-class jackler in Rory Darge. I believe that the breakdown will be really important.”

He also explained why Ben Healy, an unused replacement so far in the campaign, retains his place in the squad despite the return of Blair Kinghorn, who has played fly-half for Scotland in the past.

Townsend said: “We just feel with it being Blair’s first game back from injury - albeit not a long period out - it’s asking a lot for him to come back, play Test match rugby and also run at 10 during the week.

“It was a long discussion, because we believe the contact area will be huge and having another forward on the bench might have helped us. But we back all the forwards we have to perform.”