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Russell and Hogg 'can fill Scotland leadership void'

Mike Blair believes younger players can step up in the absence of Greig Laidlaw and Ross Ford.

Scotland coach Mike Blair has backed younger players from the national squad to take on leadership roles in the autumn tests.

Greig Laidlaw missed out on the initial squad through injury and Ross Ford was ruled out for four months with a pectoral injury suffered in training last week, robbing coach Gregor Townsend of two senior players.

Blair said there were other leaders in the group, highlighting two players who could step forward.

"We've already started to see that - look at young players like Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg who have been on the scene now for a while," he said.

"To look at them you wouldn't immediately think they are leaders who are going to drive this team because of their kind of fun-loving attitude.

"But it is incredible what we have seen from them over the last couple of seasons with Glasgow and the last year or so with Scotland."

He added: "There is a maturity they have got, as rugby leaders, they know when to switch on and switch off.

"They have got an enormous amount of respect from all the players as well. When they speak and they are being serious, the players know that you had better listen in."

When told Blair has cited him as a potential leader, Hogg said he would do what he could to help those who are relatively new to international rugby.

"There will be a few boys who have to step up," he said. "Mike's just applied a wee bit more pressure to me now.

"I have got a fair bit of experience and if I can help out the younger boys then that's what I'm here to do.

"I just want to get the best out of everybody and hopefully get some good results on the board as well."

Townsend has added a trio of Edinburgh players to his squad. Back row Magnus Bradbury, prop Rory Sutherland and uncapped hooker Neil Cochrane - the latter a replacement for Ford - all joined the squad for training on Monday.

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