Brookes returns as Saints make seven changes for Wasps clash

Kieran Brookes will be back in action for Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Kieran Brookes will be back in action for Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Kieran Brookes will make a welcome return from injury in Saints’ clash with Wasps at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).

The prop, who has been out since injuring his knee in the December 19 draw with Racing 92, starts in place of Paul Hill, who is on England duty.

Brookes was forced to have surgery to rectify his knee problem, but is now fit and available for this week’s crucial Aviva Premiership encounter.

In all, Saints have made seven changes, with Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and George North all unavailable due to international commitments.

Ben Foden and Christian Day are not in the squad, while Jamie Gibson takes a breather on the bench.

Harry Mallinder, who has scored two tries in as many Champions Cup appearances in recent weeks, moves from inside centre to full-back.

Tom Collins returns from the head injury he suffered against Glasgow a couple of weeks ago, while Luther Burrell is also back in the starting 15.

Michael Paterson, Victor Matfield and Teimana Harrison all return in the pack.

James Wilson is in line to make his first first-team appearance of the season from the bench.

Meanwhile, Wasps are without their England contingent.

In-form centre Elliot Daly and prop Matt Mullan were released by the Red Rose this week, but neither are in the squad.

Joe Launchbury and James Haskell have been retained by England.

That means flanker George Smith skippers Wasps, who also include former Saints centre James Downey in their team.

Key men Joe Simpson and Christian Wade are on the injured list.

Saints: Mallinder; Elliott, G Pisi, Burrell, Collins; Myler, Kessell; A Waller, Haywood, Brookes; Paterson, Matfield; Wood (c), Harrison, Dickinson.

Replacements: Williams, E Waller, Denman, Craig, Gibson, Dickson, Hanrahan, Wilson.

Wasps: Miller; Halai, Macken, Downey, Bassett; Gopperth, Robson; McIntyre, Shervington, Cooper-Woolley; Gaskell, Myall; Rieder, Smith (c), Hughes.

Replacements: Johnson, Bristow, Swainston, Cannon, Young, Stevenson, Jackson, Tagicakibau.