Saints skipper Hartley closes in on playing return

OUT OF ACTION - Dylan Hartley hasn't played since damaging his right knee playing for Saints on October 27 (Picture: Linda Dawson)

OUT OF ACTION - Dylan Hartley hasn't played since damaging his right knee playing for Saints on October 27 (Picture: Linda Dawson)

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Jim Mallinder says it won’t be long before skipper Dylan Hartley is back in contention for Saints selection.

The hooker has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in the 16-6 defeat to Saracens on October 27.

He has since joined up with the England squad and recently posted a picture on social networking site Twitter of him running on a treadmill.

Saints boss Mallinder admits the 26-year-old is making good progress and is optimistic about his captain’s chances of returning to action in the not too distant future.

“He’s been back and forth and in the last few days,” said the director of rugby.

“He’s stayed down with England and he’s making good improvement there and it’s not going to be long before he’s back in consideration and fully fit.”

More good news comes in the shape of full-back Ben Foden, who has also tweeted good news about his fitness.

On Monday, the England star said: “Back running this week, tomorrow is a big day! Reckon I’ll be good to go soonish!!!! #wolverine #readytorun”

Mallinder said: “Ben’s doing well, he’s now running, making big improvements but, again, we don’t want to rush players back when they’re not ready.

“We always listen to our medical advice and he’s a little bit off at the moment but making good improvement so we’re looking forward to getting him back on the field.”