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Hartley should recover for Autumn Tests

Jim Mallinder is confident that Dylan Hartley will return to club action in the next couple of weeks after suffering a fracture to his eye socket during Friday’s victory of Wasps.

The Northampton Saint’s coach confirmed that it is a small hairline fracture of the right eye socket, saying:

“He has a very small hairline fracture to the eye socket. He will probably miss this week.”

“If we look after him, then he should be OK for a couple of weeks time.”

The injury may look nasty as the photo Hartley put up on twitter demonstrates, but the news will have put England Head Coach, Stuart Lancaster’s mind at ease, the timeframe for Hartley’s recovery ought to mean that he will be fit again in time for the Autumn Tests.

Hartley has become one of England’s senior players under Lancaster, leading the side to a 14-14 draw in the 3rd Test in South Africa. With Lancaster refusing to confirm Chris Robshaw as his captain for this series, there is the very real possibility that Hartley could lead the side again.

Perhaps more critically though, England are currently desperately short of experienced hookers, with Bath’s Lee Mears retiring over the summer and his clubmate Rob Webber out with a shoulder injury.

The relatively untried duo of Harlequins’ Joe Gray and Leicester’s Tom Youngs are waiting in the wings, but it would be a tough ask to throw them into a starting position against the top sides from the Southern Hemisphere.

England play Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and Lancaster will no doubt be looking to try out a few new faces against Fiji ahead of sterner tests. He will be glad though that Hartley will seemingly be fit for action against the world’s top 3.

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