Dowson delivers injury and availability update ahead of Saints' clash with Sale Sharks

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Sam Matavesi could play a part for Saints against Sale Sharks on Saturday as he is now back in training.

The hooker has not played since suffering a hamstring injury during the first half of the New Year's Day win against Harlequins at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

But Matavesi is now on the comeback trail and his return would be a big boost for Saints, especially as Mike Haywood is still dealing with concussion he sustained against Leicester Tigers last month.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Mike's recovering from concussion and Sam's recovering from his hamstring injury," said Saints boss Phil Dowson.

Sam MatavesiSam Matavesi
Sam Matavesi

"Mike's not training but Sam's moving around and getting back into training.

"It's good to see Sam because he drives a lot of energy within our group and it's good to have him back in the mix."

Saints will welcome back three England players this week as David Ribbans, Fin Smith and Tommy Freeman are all available to face Sale at the Gardens.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But Lewis Ludlam and Alex Mitchell, who both played a part in England's win against Italy on Sunday, are at a Red Rose training camp, and Courtney Lawes is continuing his rehab from a calf injury with the national team.

"From what I gather, he (Lawes) will take part in some sessions with England this week, to a low level," Dowson said.

"He'll be back in the next one to four weeks, I guess."

Saints are set to be without Ollie Sleightholme against Sale after the talented wing suffered concussion during the first half of the Premiership Rugby Cup defeat at London Irish last Friday.

"We'll just have to see how that works," Dowson said. "He's had one previous this season so there's a different sort of protocol in that space so it's wait and see with Ol."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto will be missing again as he serves the final week of his suspension, but Fraser Dingwall's ban is up and he is now ready to play.

"He (Dingwall) has had a frustrating couple of weeks, being banned, but he's obviously very excited about playing again," Dowson said.

"He's a good, solid leader in our group and he's somebody that really drives the standard in training so it will be great to get him back in the side."

Saints were boosted by the return to action of James Grayson last Friday night.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The fly-half played the full 80 minutes and was the stand-out Saints player against Irish, having made his return from a foot injury picked up in October.

"He had a good half of rugby at Bedford the week before the London Irish game, which is brilliant for that relationship and for him to get some minutes," Dowson said.

"Then for him to play 80 minutes in a semi-final, and to play as well as he did, I thought it was outstanding.

"He's a competitor, he wants to get better and he wants to challenge for a starting spot every week."

Manny Iyogun remains on the long-term absentee list due to an Achilles injury.