Mallinder will make last-minute decision on skipper Hartley

Dylan Hartley has not played since fracturing his shoulder in March (picture: Linda Dawson)
Dylan Hartley has not played since fracturing his shoulder in March (picture: Linda Dawson)

Jim Mallinder says he will make a last-minute decision on the fitness of club captain Dylan Hartley ahead of Saturday’s Aviva Premiership final.

Hartley has not played since fracturing his shoulder blade in the league defeat to Leicester in March.

But the 28-year-old returned to full training last week and the club are remaining hopeful that he could play some part against Saracens this weekend.

However, with impressive deputies Mike Haywood and Ross McMillan available, Mallinder can afford to leave it late to make the call.

“The players who played last weekend have all reported in so there’s no damage there and the only one is Dylan,” said Mallinder.

“I’ve been saying for the past month, he just keeps improving and improving.

“We know Dylan is an outstanding player and one of the best hookers around so we know that and we know what he does for the squad.

“But we’ve got to balance that with him knowing he can do the job for us this weekend, knowing he can do better than the other two we’ve got and also knowing his health and whether he’s at risk playing in the game.

“He’s desperate to play and we’ll make the call on Friday morning.”