Saracens unsure when Farrell will return

9:00 PM GMT

Back injuries are plaguing two of England’s key players with Saracens unsure when Owen Farrell will return from his particular niggle while Northampton are confident Dylan Hartley will be back on the field within the fortnight.

Farrell is yet to play this season having picked up the back injury in pre-season training and Saracens are reluctant to put a timeframe on when the England playmaker will be back on the field.

The news will concern both club and country with England due to name their Elite Player Squad on Friday.

“It is a back injury but it is not one where the physios are able to tell you he will be back by this or that point,” McCall said. “It depends entirely on how he feels and on what he can do.

“And he just can’t do enough things to get him on to the pitch to play. It’s frustrating for him, it’s frustrating for us. He can’t play until he is ready.

“It has taken longer than thought but it is no one’s fault. Brad [Barritt] trained with him last week and took more or less a full part in it but there were a couple of things he tried to do but couldn’t do.

“Until he can do those things, he can’t play. He might be able to play next week but he might not be able to.”

Farrell is struggling to “kick properly”, according to McCall, but the Saracens boss is optimistic the injury will not require surgery.

The news is more promising regarding England captain Hartley who was forced off in Northampton’s round two win over Bristol.

He is back running in training and while the Saints are not etching in a definite date for his return, their director of rugby Jim Mallinder is hopeful he will be back in a “couple of weeks”.

“I think it was probably a bit sore before the Bristol game,” Mallinder said of Hartley. “He came off at half-time. We’re hopeful that once he gets back he’s back properly. You could push him and he could probably play this weekend.

“What we don’t want is to play him for 40 minutes and him then to be out for another two weeks. We want to get it sorted properly and it hopefully then not affecting him for the rest of the season.”

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