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Make or break for Northampton Saints

Franklin's Gardens. Credit: Press Association.

The pressure is on Northampton Saints with the next two games set to make or break their season.

A week tomorrow they have to beat fierce rivals Leicester to keep their Premiership campaign alive.

But first it is win or bust in the Quarter Finals of the European Champions Cup.

Donovan Blake looks ahead to their contest with the Premiership leaders.

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England rugby squad named: No place for Tom Youngs

Dylan Hartley is widely tipped to be England captain despite his disciplinary problems. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Four players have the Anglia region have been named in new coach Eddie Jones' first 33-man England squad.

Dylan Hartley, Paul Hill and Courtney Lawes of Northampton Saints and Norfolk's Ben Youngs of Leicester Tigers are in the squad.

No captain named at this stage but Dylan Hartley is widely tipped despite his disciplinary problems. The Northampton hooker, 29, was dropped from the World Cup squad after a series of disciplinary breaches.

Norfolk's Tom Youngs have been left out of the England rugby squad named by Eddie Jones. Credit: Nigel French/PA Archive/PA Images

The notable omissions from the squad is Ben's brother Tom Youngs, the Leicester hooker who has been dropped and Northampton Saints' Tom Wood.

England head coach Eddie Jones says he has "chosen a lot of new players on the growth we see in them".

"The long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby. Jones says "the door is not shut for anyone" after naming his first squad.

“I have spoken to some of the players who have not been selected," he said. "Naturally they will be disappointed and that is how it should be. They know what they need to do to get back into this squad.

"There is no such thing as a shut door because of injuries and loss of form. There will always be opportunities to anyone playing consistently well in the Premiership and Europe.”

– Eddie Jones, England Head Coach

The squad will meet at Pennyhill Park on 24 January to prepare for their opening Six Nations match against Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday 6 February.

Bristol star snapped up by Saints

New Northampton signing Tom Kessell Credit: CornishPirates.com

Northampton Saints have announced the signing of former Cornish Pirates scrum-half Tom Kessell.

The 25-year-old will join Saints in time for next season after completing a short-term stint with the Pirates' Championship rivals Bristol.

Kessell was part of the Championship XV that beat Canada earlier this season, while he has also represented England Counties.

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder said:

"Tom has shown great promise in the Championship, and has had his performances recognised with selection for the team that played Canada last year.

We believe that he has the potential to perform in the Aviva Premiership and in Europe, and we are looking forward to seeing him develop at Franklin's Gardens."

– Jim Mallinder, Northampton Saints

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Saints captain Hartley banned for 3 weeks

The Rugby Football Union has handed Northampton Saints captain Dylan Hartley a three week suspension for an elbow thrown at an opponent during the weekend's clash with Leicester Tigers.

Hartley leaves the field after Saturday's red card Credit: PA

Hartley was sent off in the Aviva Premiership match between Saints and Leicester Tigers for striking Matt Smith with his elbow. The Northampton Saints hooker pleaded guilty and the case was heard via conference call by Jeremy Summers, sitting as a sole Judicial Officer.

“The sanction reflects the low end entry point of the offence, which carries a two-week tariff. The entry point was aggravated having regard to Dylan’s previous record and a week was taken off to reflect mitigating circumstances. As such the sanction reflects the player’s record rather than the seriousness of the offence itself.”

– Jeremy Summers, RFU

Hartley is banned until January 11, 2015. The decision means he wil miss Saints' next three Premiership matches, but will be available for England selection for the start of the Six Nations Championship in February.

Saints trio named in England Rugby squad

Dylan Hartley Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Northampton Saints stars Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes have been named in the England Rugby squad to face Australia this weekend.

The trio will line up alongside Norfolk's Ben Youngs as Coach Stuart Lancaster names an unchanged squad for the final Autumn international.

Stuart Lancaster Credit: PA

“It was great to get the win last week and the whole 23 did well so we want to give those guys another chance against an Australian team who will want to finish their season on a high.

“We’ve had great support at Twickenham over the last three games and we are determined to give the fans something to shout about this weekend.”

– Stuart Lancaster, England Coach

England squad to face Australia Forwards (13) Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby) Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons) Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) James Haskell (Wasps) George Kruis (Saracens) Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) Joe Marler (Harlequins) Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby) Matt Mullan (Wasps) Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain) Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) David Wilson (Bath Rugby) Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)

Backs (10) Brad Barritt (Saracens) Mike Brown (Harlequins) Owen Farrell (Saracens) George Ford (Bath Rugby) Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby) Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby) Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby) Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens) Marland Yarde (Harlequins) Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Saints make changes for weekend clash with Irish

After a third bonus point win in their opening four games, Northampton Saints hit the road once more for the Aviva Premiership trip to London Irish tomorrow.

Saints have made four changes to the side that dug deep to beat Bath last weekend at Franklin's Gardens.

Lee Dickson returns at scrum-half. Among the forwards, Alex Waller, Mike Haywood and Courtney Lawes are in for Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley and Christian Day.

London Irish have made just one change, Tomas O'Leary the new face at scrum-half and Darren Allinson taking his place on the bench.

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