Saints to assess England star Mitchell ahead of Saracens showdown

Alex Mitchell (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Alex Mitchell (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Alex Mitchell (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Phil Dowson remains unsure whether key scrum-half Alex Mitchell will be able to feature for Saints against Saracens on Friday night.

Mitchell has been nursing a wrist injury sustained in England's Guinness Six Nations win against Lyon earlier this month.

He picked up the problem in the early stages of that match but battled through it before being replaced during the second period.

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He was not in Saints' squad to face Bristol Bears on Friday night, with 19-year-old Archie McParland making his first Premiership start at Ashton Gate and Jake Garside on the bench.

As well as Mitchell, Saints were also without two other injured scrum-halves as Tom James and Callum Braley were unavailable.

Saints suffered a 52-21 defeat on their return to Gallagher Premiership action and will now be desperate to bounce back against Saracens at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

But there are no guarantees that Mitchell will be able to play in that game.

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When asked whether he knew if Mitchell would be available to take on Saracens, Dowson said: "Not at the moment - we're still talking to the medics about that.

"He's obviously dealing with a wrist issue at the moment so we need to make sure we look after him.

"If he's available, he's likely to be involved because he's been the best nine in the league."

Tommy Freeman was rested against Bristol after shining for England throughout the Six Nations.

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And when asked whether Freeman can return against Saracens, Dowson said: "He can.

"He's had a week off and hopefully he'll be refreshed and ready to get into it."

However, Saints still have numerous injury issues, with George Furbank having suffered a calf injury in England's game against France and Tarek Haffar and Tom Pearson still working their way back to fitness following problems they sustained playing for England A.

Tom Seabrook was forced off against Sale Sharks last week, while George Hendy had to come off for a head injury assessment at Bristol and Paul Hill withdrew from the game due to a problem picked up in the warm-up.

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Saints know they need to dust themselves off when they host Saracens, which is a fixture that will be followed by more massive matches, including tussles with Munster, Leicester Tigers and Harlequins in April.

Dowson said: "The Saracens game will be the biggest challenge because it's the next one - and that's all we're focusing on so what comes after that is irrelevant compared to what we need to do on Monday to make sure we're in the best situation physically, mentally, emotionally to play another game."