England boss Eddie Jones looks set to stick with Dylan Hartley as skipper for the Six Nations after stressing the Saints star is ‘doing all the right things at the moment’.
Hartley is currently in the fourth week of a six-week suspension which he picked up playing for Saints last month.
The hooker was dismissed just six minutes into his club comeback after swinging an arm into the face of Leinster flanker Sean O’Brien in the Champions Cup defeat at Franklin’s Gardens.
He will be free to play again on January 23, with England starting their Six Nations campaign against France at Twickenham on February 4.
And Jones said: “Dylan’s got to come into our training camp in Portugal (in the build-up to the Six Nations) fit and ready to go.
“He’s doing all the right things at the moment and if he keeps on doing that, there’s no reason why he won’t be starting hooker and captain.
“He’s got to train bloody hard, that’s the thing. He’s got to come into Portugal, he’s got to be one of the fittest players there and if he’s in the 23, he’ll be captain.
“He is capable of coming back and playing, as long as he trains well. It’s really important he trains well.”
Hartley was named England captain by Jones last January and proceeded to skipper the Red Rose to 13 wins from as many matches in 2016.
“Dylan made a mistake and that’s the first mistake he has made for England,” Jones added.
“There are plenty of players in the squad who have made mistakes.”