Horne set to start for Scotland

Peter Horne will start in place of the suspended Finn Russell against Italy
Peter Horne will start in place of the suspended Finn Russell against Italy

Glasgow's Peter Horne has been given the nod to replace suspended stand-off Finn Russell for Scotland's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy on Saturday.

Russell this week lost an appeal against a two-match ban for a dangerous tackle on Wales' Dan Biggar - leaving Dark Blues head coach Vern Cotter with a dilemma over his replacement.

The Kiwi had to decide between the inform duo of Horne and Edinburgh's Greig Tonks, but it is the Warriors fly-half who has been told he will collect his seventh cap when the Azzurri visit BT Murrayfield.

Horne's inclusion is one of four changes to the side beaten 26-23 by Wales two weeks ago.

Glasgow's Tommy Seymour takes Tim Visser's place on the wing while Scotstoun team-mate Tim Swinson comes in for injured lock Richie Gray.

Prop Euan Murray, who missed the Wales clash for religious reasons, reclaims his place as Geoff Cross drops out, while Tonks is left to take consolation from being named amongst the substitutes.

Scotland will hope to bounce back from successive defeats to France and then Warren Gatland's men as they host the Italians in Edinburgh - a match already looking like the Wooden Spoon decider.

Cotter said: "We're very wary of Italy and feel that they have improved. They are a team that will be targeting this game, so we must be prepared to roll our sleeves up and work very hard to get a result.

"They are a big, physical team - bigger than us - so we will have to be technically strong and well connected as a group to withstand what will be a strong assault on our defensive line.

"We're very focused on what we do and what we want to achieve, which is to apply pressure that yields points, create line breaks and tackle breaks and develop our speed in this game.

If we keep developing our belief and our skill sets, and our attitude to the game and our standards we'll get what we're aiming for, which is the win."

Cotter has made four changes to the replacements, with props Ryan Grant and Cross replacing Gordon Reid (knee) and Jon Welsh (hand), who were injured against Wales.

Promising young Edinburgh duo Ben Toolis and Hamish Watson are poised to make their senior international debuts having taken the places of injured lock Jim Hamilton (groin) and back-row Alasdair Strokosch on the bench.

Replacement scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne has also completed his return to play protocols to retain his place in the squad, having shown signs of delayed concussion after the match against Wales.

Cotter added: "We have youth and experience in this group of players and when we look at our performances, we've improved from one week to the next, so that's positive.

"We've stayed focused on the process. The players have been very honest, but we're enjoying what we're doing and that's important.

"We focus on the here, the now, and what's next, in the knowledge that what we do now can influence what comes next."