Saints welcome back England players

Northampton v Newcastle

Saints' England contingent make a welcome return at Franklin's Gardens this afternoon. Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden are all back in tow as Northampton seek to make up the ground they lost while their World Cup men were away.

And after four defeats out of six, they line up against Newcastle this afternoon in ninth place in the Premiership table. "We're not happy about where we are," Jim Mallinder, their director of rugby, said.

"We're desperate for wins and for points. Newcastle have come down here in recent years, given us frights and won. They've got some good players and we've got to make sure we're at our very best."

Newcastle, bottom of the pile with one win and five points, are without their suspended captain James Hudson. They would take a bonus point now, ahead of their vital home game against Worcester next Friday, when cut-price tickets of £10 for adults and £5 for juniors should mean the Falcons' nest is more than half full and make for an exciting atmosphere.