Aviva Premiership: Northampton to decide on Dylan Hartley's fitness on Friday
Dylan Hartley's place in the Aviva Premiership final and on England's tour to New Zealand remains in the balance.
Last Updated: 28/05/14 4:12pm
The Northampton hooker has been sidelined for nearly two months with a shoulder injury and is still restricted in his movement in the joint despite a return to training earlier this week.
Saints will decide on Friday morning whether he is ready to face Saracens at Twickenham on Saturday but director of rugby Jim Mallinder insists he will be under consideration to start.
Even if he fails to make their matchday squad, there is a chance Stuart Lancaster will add him to England's touring party when he finalises his plans with additions from Saturday's combatants.
"It's touch and go whether he plays and whether we chance him," Mallinder said. "If he's fit enough to be in the 23 and take part, the question is do you start him?
"With his improvement there's a very good chance he'll be fit for New Zealand.
"(England coach) Stuart Lancaster has taken four hookers already, but if Dylan is fit to tour then I don't think he'll have any hesitation taking him. And he'll probably play.
On the plane
"Stuart has said to me that if he plays for us, he's definitely on the plane. He's not said that if he doesn't play for you, he's not on the plane.
"We know he's an outstanding player and one of the best hookers around. We know what he does for the squad as well.
"But we have to balance knowing he could the job for us at the weekend, knowing he'll be better than the other two we have got and also thinking about his health and whether he's at risk by playing.
"Dylan is desperate to play and if you asked him he'd say he's fit."