Dowson delivers injury update ahead of Saints' battle with Bristol Bears

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Saints are set to welcome back Paul Hill for Friday night's trip to Bristol Bears.

But doubts remain over several other key first-team players ahead of the Gallagher Premiership showdown at Ashton Gate.

Hill was able to rest against Gloucester last weekend, but he has been in training and could return to the matchday squad this week.

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"Hilly's good," said Saints boss Phil Dowson. "He's back in, he needed a rest but he's back in the mix now and he's trained this week."

Paul HillPaul Hill
Paul Hill

Juarno Augustus, Matt Proctor and George Furbank were all on the 'not considered for selection' list for last weekend's game, and Saints continue to carefully monitor them.

"Juarno's had a quad strain but he's coming back," said Saints boss Phil Dowson. "He did some running so he'll be there or thereabouts.

"It might be a bit soon but we'll see how he goes in the next couple of days and make sure he can come through without having a reaction.

"He's getting there."

On Proctor, Dowson said: "Matty's back running this week.

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"He had a bit of a tight calf so we're just trying to make sure he gets back moving well so hopefully he won't be too long."

And on Furbank, who suffered a mid-foot sprain in the game against Sale Sharks earlier this month, Dowson said: "He's on the mend.

"He's started doing some running mechanics but he'll be a little way off yet."

Saints are definitely without their five England stars this week as David Ribbans, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Alex Mitchell and Tommy Freeman are at a three-day training camp in Brighton.

But Dowson was in no mood to moan about their absences.

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"The clubs have signed EPS agreements with the RFU so this was always on the cards and you have to prepare appropriately for it," the Saints boss said.

"It's frustrating because clearly we want all our players available and they're not.

"But loads of other clubs are in a similar situation so there's no point moaning - we've got to get on with it."

With Mitchell away and Tom James sidelined with a shoulder problem, 20-year-old Jake Garside is the back-up to Callum Braley at scrum-half.

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Garside came off the bench for his Premiership debut in the 41-34 win against Gloucester.

And Dowson said: "He's brilliant and what we like about Jake is how he's applied himself at Bedford because he's been outstanding.

"He's worked hard, he's tenacious, he's tough, his skill level has improved drastically and he's played a lot at Bedford, which again speaks to the relationship we have with them.

"He's done really well so we're delighted for him to get his first appearance in the Prem.

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"We have to go deep in the squad, make sure these boys step up and have a good experience in the first team."

Sam Matavesi is now off the injury list, but Manny Iyogun is a long-term absentee and Mike Haywood and Ollie Sleightholme remain doubtful due to concussion.