Northampton Saints sweating on key duo’s availability for Champions Cup showdown with Leinster

Adam Kyriacou
Ollie Sleightholme in action for Northampton Saints.

Ollie Sleightholme in action for Northampton Saints.

Northampton Saints are sweating over the availability of in-form wing Ollie Sleightholme for their Investec Champions Cup semi-final against Leinster in Dublin.

The 24-year-old star has been in excellent form this season and is on a hot streak for tries, adding his latest crossing during last weekend’s loss against Harlequins.

However, Sleightholme suffered a concussion in that game at Twickenham and boss Phil Dowson has revealed that he is going through the return to play protocols.

Major setback

It would be a major blow to Northampton if one of their players of the season thus far is out for the clash at Croke Park, as Saints would lose a crucial strike weapon.

But that could well be the case as, according to the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Sleightholme is a serious doubt for a match that sold out in a matter of hours.

“Ollie Sleightholme went off with concussion so he is going through that graduated return to play and we will have to see how he gets on,” Dowson told the media.

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Dowson is also sweating over the fitness of back-rower Lewis Ludlam, who like Sleightholme was a second-half casualty in the Premiership meeting at Twickenham.

“Lewis Ludlam has a sore shoulder so we are going to give him as much time as possible to get over that,” Dowson added as his outfit builds towards the Dublin tie.

“But we have got other lads who are desperate for the opportunity to play so we are just looking forward to getting stuck into it.”

Massive test

Northampton’s narrow defeat to Harlequins in the Premiership coupled with Saracens’ win at Bath saw the Men in Black cut the gap on the Saints to just four points.

However, league focus is very much taking a backseat this week as Dowson and his side focus on attempting to topple Leinster on home soil in the Champions Cup.

Leinster’s first team will be fully refreshed after the majority of their Ireland contingent did not travel on their United Rugby Championship trip to South Africa.

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