Saints set to welcome back big guns for Bath battle

Kahn Fotuali'i is set to return from injury for the clash with Bath (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Kahn Fotuali'i is set to return from injury for the clash with Bath (picture: Sharon Lucey)

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Alex King expects Saints to have some of their big guns back for Saturday’s clash with Bath at Franklin’s Gardens.

As many as 11 first-team players were missing when Jim Mallinder’s men were beaten 30-24 by Leicester Tigers on April 16.

Dylan Hartley, Kieran Brookes and Lee Dickson were all out with concussion, while George North and Kahn Fotuali’i, who both had leg injuries, were among the other absentees.

But King is expecting several stars to return for the crucial Aviva Premiership game, which Saints must win if they are to harbour any remaining hopes of making the top four.

“Hopefully we’ll have one or two guys back,” the attack coach said. “There have been some positive signs in training.

“With a bit of luck, we’ll get some of those big boys out on the pitch on Saturday.

“Both Kahn and Lee have been back in training and we’re now lucky we’ve got three good scrum-halves to choose from.

“Tom Kessell played really well against Leicester and he was good again for the Wanderers on Monday night so we’ve got good options.”

Hartley has not played for Saints since being knocked unconscious in England’s final Six Nations match, in France, back in March.

And when asked for an update on the hooker’s condition, King said: “Dylan’s going through all the protocols as normal.

“Fingers crossed we’ll see him before the end of the season, whether it’s this weekend, we don’t know.

“Hopefully we’ll get him back as soon as possible.

“I’m not sure where he is medically, but he’s getting better. He’s not in full contact training.

“The main thing is that Dylan gets back and that he’s 100 per cent when he does.

“It’s up to the medical team and strength and conditioning team to get him back and that’s out of our hands.”