Dylan Hartley could be in line to post an end-of-season reminder to Eddie Jones not to forget about him when deciding on England’s 31 for the World Cup.
The hooker hasn’t played any rugby at all in 2019, his last appearance for Northampton coming in a pre-Christmas Premiership match against Worcester.
A knee injury has kept him sidelined since then, but Saints boss Chris Boyd indicated in a BBC Sport report that Hartley could be back on the pitch before the club season is over.
That development would open up the possibility of the 2016 and 2017 Six Nations-winning skipper featuring in England’s June 2 match at Twickenham the day after the Premiership final.
“Dylan has been to the specialist. It was really positive,” said Boyd following Northampton’s 29-15 Premiership win on Friday night at Leicester.
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“I’m not sure when, but I’m really optimistic Dylan will play some football before the end of the season. He might be three to six weeks, but he’s in a really good space.”
Capped 97 times, the controversial Hartley is England’s second most capped player of all-time, lying just 17 appearances behind Jason Leonard’s record 114 matches.
Once the annual exhibition game versus the Barbarians is complete, England will return from their summer break to four warm-up internationals.
Oops, we did it again ?
— Northampton Saints ? (@SaintsRugby) March 22, 2019
Boyd, meanwhile, dedicated Saints’ win over Leicester to the retired Rob Horne, who was left paralysed in his right arm following an injury at Welford Road last season.
Northampton moved their home fixture against Tigers last October to Twickenham to raise funds to benefit Horne’s rehabilitation, but that defeat at rugby HQ provided an added incentive for them to make amends on Friday night.
“We set up the Rob Horne match against Leicester at Twickenham and we were terribly disappointed with the way we played,” said Boyd.
“We disrespected that occasion. This fixture last season was when Rob had his career-ending injury, so there was a little extra bird on the shoulder this time for him. It feels good to right that wrong, there was certainly some extra motivation to do that.”
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