Saints stretched at centre with Horne and Francis set to miss Sale clash

Rob Horne was sent off at Worcester last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Rob Horne was sent off at Worcester last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Saints are set to be stretched at centre for Saturday's game at Sale Sharks with Rob Horne and Piers Francis missing the trip to the AJ Bell Stadium.

And Luther Burrell appears doubtful after being forced off with a head injury in the 30-15 defeat at Worcester Warriors last weekend.

Horne will miss the trip to Sale as he is serving a one-week suspension for receiving a red card at Sixways.

The Australian centre picked up two yellow cards, one for a high tackle and the other for a tip tackle.

Burrell was only able to play 15 minutes of the match after taking a heavy knock in contact.

Francis was his replacement at inside centre, having been named on the bench after being released by England earlier in the week.

But he has been retained ahead of Saturday's game against Samoa at Twickenham, along with club-mates Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, and will not be available to face Sale.

That means Saints' centre options are limited, with Tom Stephenson and Rory Hutchinson likely candidates to step in.

The pair have formed a successful partnership for the Wanderers this season and started in the recent Anglo-Welsh Cup clashes with Exeter Chiefs and the Dragons.

Another possibility for Saints would be to select Ben Foden at full-back and move Harry Mallinder to a centre role.