Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder has backed centre Luther Burrell to return to the England side.
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder has backed centre Luther Burrell to return to the England side after he helped the champions to victory at London Irish on Saturday.
The Saints returned to the top of the table after battling to a 19-12 victory over the Exiles at the Madejski Stadium.
Burrell scored what proved to be the matchwinning try and the result takes the champions to the top of the table.
With just three matches to be played before England head coach Stuart Lancaster names his squad for the November internationals, competition is tough for a position amongst the centres.
Bath midfield duo are the form combination at the moment and rugby league star Sam Burgess is also setto arrive at the Recreation Groun next week.
“Centre is a competitive position and Luther enjoys that,” said Mallinder.
“Throughout his career he’s always been up against it.
“He’s not worried about the competition, instead he’s just concentrating on playing well for Saints.
“Hopefully Stuart Lancaster will pick him.”
England back-row Tom Wood and hooker Dylan Hartley missed Saints’ victory due to back injuries, but Mallinder expects them to be back in action when they face Sale next weekend.
Another member of Northampton’s England contingent- scrum-half Lee Dickson limped off after 20 minutes with a rib problem.
“Tom was close to playing against Irish,” added Mallinder.
“He re-did the injury so we’ve been cautious in building him back up.
“He’s increased his load at the end of this week, so we hope he’ll be fit to play against Sale next weekend.
“Dylan also has a sore back, which he did in training in midweek. We expect him back next weekend.
“Lee is just a bit sore and hopefully he’ll be okay. He’s quite confident he’ll be okay.”
Fly-half Stephen Myler contributed the rest of Saints’ points in the win over Irish via four penalties and a conversion.
“We said beforehand that if we got a three-point win here that would do,” said Mallinder.
“Instead we got a seven-point win.
“Irish have been playing well and in the second half they put us under pressure.
“Sometimes you base away games on your defence and we were outstanding in that department.”
London Irish fought back with four penalties from Shane Geraghty after they trailed Saints 10-0 at half-time.
“This is the best team in England and we got ourselves in the position of giving ourselves a shot,” said director of rugby Brian Smith.
“We came up just short.
“Week-on-week we’re earning the respect of our opponents and that’s phase one for us at the moment. The next step we must take is put these teams away.”