Jake Kerr is one of three uncapped hookers called up by Scotland

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has named seven uncapped players in his 39-man squad for the Six Nations.

Three uncapped hookers – David Cherry (Edinburgh), Jake Kerr (Leicester Tigers) and Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) – have been called up to the squad in response to injuries to Fraser Brown and George Turner.

Four other uncapped players – centres Chris Dean (Edinburgh) and Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), flanker Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) and prop D’Arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors) – have also been included.

Scotland celebrate their win over Argentina at Murrayfield

John Hardie (Newcastle Falcons) has earned a recall to the squad but there is no place for Alex Dunbar, Gordon Reid or Henry Pyrgos, while John Barclay, Matt Fagerson and Richie Gray are also ruled out through injury.

Scotland face Italy at Murrayfield in their opening match on February 2 before Ireland visit Edinburgh the following weekend.

The Scots finished third in the 2018 Six Nations and Townsend is hoping for a better result in this year’s championship.

He said: “There’s certainly been a lot of improvement from this group of players in recent seasons and I believe there’s much more to come.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend says there is ‘much more to come’ from his squad

“They’ve a genuine desire to get better and reach their potential in what is a huge year for our sport.

“In the past 18 months we’ve played 18 Test matches and have introduced 18 new players to Test-level rugby.

“Once again, our squad features players aiming to take that step, which is a testimony to their performances this season and the growing strength in depth of Scottish rugby.”

Scotland have been hampered by an extensive injury list containing 19 internationals, including former skipper John Barclay, Zander Fagerson and Richie Gray.

Townsend admits he will be down to the bare bones in a number of key positions when they open their championship campaign at home to Italy on February 2.

“Every team will have injury challenges, but every team will be going into the tournament believing they can win,” said the Scotland coach.

“That’s the only reason we take part – to win the next game and then win the trophy at the end of the tournament.

“We believe in our squad. We’ve seen how they’ve taken on the best in the world over the past few years and on some of those occasions we had a lot of injuries.

“Over the piece, I think we have a squad with a lot of experience and players playing with confidence and in good form.”

Scotland Six Nations squad

Forwards: Alex Allan, Adam Ashe, Simon Berghan, Jamie Bhatti, David Cherry, Allan Dell, Grant Gilchrist, Gary Graham, Jonny Gray, John Hardie, Jake Kerr, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, D’Arcy Rae, Jamie Ritchie, Sam Skinner, Grant Stewart, Josh Strauss, Tim Swinson, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson

Backs: Chris Dean, Darcy Graham, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg, George Horne, Pete Horne, Huw Jones, Lee Jones, Blair Kinghorn, Greig Laidlaw (C), Sean Maitland, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour