Hartley likely to return for Saints

Date published: April 6 2016

Six Nations winning captain Dylan Hartley could be back for Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup quarter-final clash with Saracens on Saturday.

Hartley suffered a concussion injury in the final Six Nations when England beat France 31-21 to claim a Grand Slam winning Six Nations title.

The 30-year-old New Zealand-born hooker has been kept on sidelines since returning from the England national side after being knocked unconscious in the 68th minute against France.

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder has said that Hartley is being considered for this week's important quarter-final clash should all the assessments and playing protocols indicate that he is fit to play.

"Dylan is in the system and has actually been running today," Mallinder told Press Association.

"Without a doubt it would be a boost if he's back. Any of those senior players you want available."

"When you play Saracens you need as many of your top players as possible, but we are fortunate that we have players to come in like Mike Haywood, who has played a lot of big games now."

The Saints' boss made mention of a few more concussion injuries in his squad, all awaiting feedback from injury assessments.

"We've got the four head injuries and they're all going through their return to play protocols, so we don't know how that will pan out.

"They could all be back, or none of them could be back. They've got to go through all the stages of the return to play protocols. They're all at different stages of that path at the moment.

These pending assessments are hindering the Saints preparations for Saturday's clash but Mallinder remains upbeat that they will be at their best.

"It makes preparations very difficult, but all you can do is train with the people you've got and that's what we've been doing," he added.

"We're having to look after the players but we know that by Saturday we'll have a competitive team out."