Six Nations: England must pick Luther Burrell, says Saints boss
Luther Burrell has to be a first-choice centre for England's Six Nations campaign, according to his Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder.
The 27-year-old played all five games in last year's tournament, but missed out on the autumn internationals, partly through injury.
He put in a superb performance in Saturday's 23-19 win over Leicester.
Mallinder told BBC Radio 5 live: "If England don't pick him I don't think he'll ever get selected for England."
He added: "Without a doubt he has to go to the Six Nations."
England start their Six Nations campaign against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on 6 February.
|England's centre options|
|Luther Burrell (seven caps)||Manu Tuilagi (25)|
|Brad Barritt (22)||Kyle Eastmond (six)|
|Billy Twelvetrees (16)||Jonathan Joseph (six)|
Burrell, a former rugby league player with Huddersfield and Leeds, has seven England caps, but has not featured for Stuart Lancaster's side since a defeat by New Zealand on 21 June.
He missed the first game of the autumn internationals, against the All Blacks, with a hand injury, but was then overlooked for the remaining three matches in November even though he was fit enough to play for Saints.
Lancaster instead used differing combinations of Brad Barritt, Kyle Eastmond, Owen Farrell and Billy Twelvetrees at 12 and 13, but Burrell's form and the impending return from injury of Leicester's Manu Tuilagi will add competition in the midfield.
Burrell's powerhouse display against the Tigers, which saw him play a central role in two of his side's three tries, was even more remarkable, considering that Saints had to sacrifice a back to compensate for the sending off of hooker Dylan Hartley.
"It was an outstanding performance. At times we needed someone to carry and get into the heart of them," said Mallinder.
"He's been good since coming back from injury and has been outstanding over the last few weeks. I'd have him in my England team."
Burrell added: "I was very disappointed to miss out through injury. But that's all external for me because I need to get my consistency back.
"I know the Six Nations is not too far away. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be involved but all I can do is concentrate on playing well here."