Rugby Union

Dylan Hartley is expected to be named England captain on Monday.

Dylan Hartley edging towards England captaincy

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Dylan Hartley has edged closer to taking the England captaincy for the RBS 6 Nations after being included in Northampton's starting line-up for a second successive weekend.

Hartley is preferred at hooker ahead of Mike Heywood for the Champions Cup trip to Llanelli where Saints will be looking to secure their place in the quarter-finals.

The 29-year-old has missed seven weeks of the season through concussion and upon his return found himself behind Heywood in the Franklin's Gardens pecking order.

A rib problem forced him to withdraw against Leicester on January 9, but he started against Glasgow last weekend and is back in the number two jersey on Saturday.

Hartley is expected to be named England captain when head coach Eddie Jones announces his chosen candidate for the post on Monday.

Prop Paul Hill and lock Courtney Lawes are also present for Saints in the final round of games before Jones' squad gather at their Surrey training base to begin Six Nations preparations.

England received heartening news from the Ricoh Arena when flanker James Haskell and lock Joe Launchbury were passed fit to face Leinster on Saturday.

Haskell and Launchbury, who are expected to start the Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 6, have recovered from a shoulder problem and concussion respectively.

Another Wasps player hoping to impress is Elliot Daly, who is competing with Jonathan Joseph at outside centre.

Also in action against Leinster is George Smith, the veteran Australian openside who will offer breakdown guidance to England's back rows on Wednesday having been recruited by Jones on an informal basis.

Jack Nowell is missing from Exeter's 23 once again as he continues his recovery from a knee injury, forcing him to miss Sunday's visit of the Ospreys.

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