England captain Dylan Hartley could play for the first time in six weeks when Northampton take on Castres in Saturday’s European Champions Cup clash.
Saints will name their team for the Pool Four clash at Stade Pierre Antoine on Friday lunchtime, with hooker Hartley in contention to play for the first time since September 11.
Hartley, who captained England to the Grand Slam earlier this year and June’s 3-0 series win in Australia, had been suffering from back spasms which prevented him from lifting weights and scrummaging, but is back in full training.
Saints backs coach Alan Dickens said on Wednesday: “Dylan’s been injured. He’s on the route back.
“He trained fully last week. He’s trained fully this week, it’s just dependent on how he reacts.
“He’s there or thereabouts.”
Eddie Jones (L), Dylan Hartley David Rogers/Getty Images
Hartley’s imminent return comes as a boost not just for a Saints side seeking to build on their opening 16-14 win over Montpellier, but for England.
England’s opening match of the autumn series is against South Africa on November 12.
England second row Courtney Lawes has also trained fully this week and is in contention to return to the starting XV, while Christian Day is also back in training.
Centre Luther Burrell remains out with concussion.
Dickens added: “Luther’s going through the return to play protocol. He had a little bit of a setback.
“And we just thought we would start the process again.”
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England captain Hartley to return?
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