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'Hartley a candidate to lead England'
ESPN Staff
October 1, 2012
England hooker Dylan Hartley, England v Ireland, Six Nations, Twickenham, London, England, March 17, 2012
Dylan Hartley is a candidate for the England captaincy © Getty Images
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Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder has tipped hooker Dylan Hartley as a potential England captain ahead of the November Tests.

England boss Stuart Lancaster last week claimed that he is yet to decide who will lead the country during the November Tests, but Chris Robshaw seems to be the favourite after captaining England with distinction during the 2012 Six Nations and the June Tests. And if Lancaster opts to switch the flanker for another candidate, then Mallinder believes that Hartley is the perfect man to lead the country.

Hartley, Northampton's current skipper, has 42 caps to his name already, and Mallinder claims that he will be one of the front-runners to take on the England captaincy if Lancaster looks elsewhere.

"I can't really talk for Chris Robshaw but I can speak very, very highly of Dylan Hartley," Mallinder told Sky Sports News. "We appointed him captain of the club a few years ago and I think that he has matured as a player, he's very strong on the field in terms of being a leader and leads by example.

"Hooker is a tough position but he leads from the front. Off the field he's got the respect of all these players and those around him and he's definitely a candidate."

But while Hartley is likely to be England's first choice hooker in the November Tests, he will sit out this weekend's club game when Northampton travel to London Irish. He was forced off the field in their Friday night game against London Wasps with a nasty eye injury and Mallinder has confirmed that he has suffered a "small hairline fracture".

"He got a bang to his eye socket," Mallinder said. "And he played on, but we took him off after about 60 minutes. He had it checked today and has a very small hairline fracture to the eye socket so it's a little bit disappointing. He'll be out very short-term and will probably miss this week. If we look after him then he should be okay for a couple of week's time."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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