Dylan Hartley: Northampton hope England captain will be fit before end of season
Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd is hopeful England captain Dylan Hartley will return to action before the end of the season.
Hartley, who turns 31 on Sunday, has not played since suffering a knee injury in December.
But the Saints hooker was pitchside at Welford Road for Friday's 29-15 win against Leicester - and Boyd issued a positive post-match update.
"Dylan has been to the specialist. It was really positive," he said.
"I'm not sure when, but I'm really optimistic Dylan will play some football before the end of the season.
"He might be three to six weeks, but he's in a really good space."
Hartley is England's second-most capped player, having played in 97 internationals - 17 behind record-holder Jason Leonard (114).
England's next fixture is against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday 2 June, the day after the Premiership final.
Following the summer break, Eddie Jones' side are then scheduled to play four warm-up internationals - two against Wales, then home games with Ireland and Italy - prior to their Rugby World Cup opener against Tonga in Sapporo on 22 September.