West expects pair to return

PA Sport
Courtney Lawes returned to action for Northampton
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Courtney Lawes returned to action for Northampton

Northampton forwards coach Dorian West is hopeful England stars Dylan Hartley and Ben Foden will be available to play in next weekend's Aviva Premiership clash at Sale Sharks.

Hartley has missed England's first three autumn internationals with a knee injury along with team-mate Courtney Lawes, though the powerful lock returned to action in Northampton's 23-16 win against London Welsh. Foden has been out since October 14 after needing an operation on a severely sprained ankle.

"We are pretty hopeful that Dylan, Ben Foden and George Pisi will be available next week," West said.

West admitted Lawes, who was replaced after 59 minutes, was a little rusty but he came through unscathed and is ready if England need him against New Zealand next week.

West said: "It is never nice to be without your best players.

"Courtney gave us a lot of different options. He is somebody you like to have in your team and I am sure the opposition see his name on the teamsheet and it gives them a bit of a worry. He was slightly rusty, but we will train hard this week and see where he is."

London Welsh ran Northampton, who moved back into the play-off spots for 24 hours, close in a game blighted by constant rain.

West added: "The conditions suited London Welsh more than it did us. They have a big pack of forwards and we didn't get a chance to run them round the pitch and tire them out because of the conditions, so they could stick in the game for long periods."

London Welsh director of rugby Lyn Jones felt his side fully deserved their losing bonus point.

"We are really pleased. We came here looking to leave with something," he said. "I was pleased with the attitude and the boys' approach to the game."

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