TEAM NEWS | Northampton Saints v Sale Sharks

England stars Manu Tuilagi, Tom Curry, Jonny Hill and Bevan Rodd all return to the starting line-up while George Ford features in a Premiership matchday squad for the first time as Alex Sanderson picks a strong team for Saturday’s crunch clash against Northampton Saints (live on BT Sport, KO 3pm).

Scotland hooker Ewan Ashman also starts while Raffi Quirke, Tom Roebuck and fit-again Coenie Oosthuizen join fly-half Ford on a powerful replacements bench as Alex’s Sharks look to put some more distance between themselves and fourth-placed Saints.

Rodd and Ashman are joined by tighthead prop Nick Schonert in a dynamic front-row for the showdown with Phil Dowson’s men.

Cobus Wiese and Hill are reunited in the second row and they’ve got an abrasive back-row of Jono Ross, Tom Curry and JL du Preez for company.

Scrum-half Gus Warr and the Premiership’s top points scorer Rob du Preez team up again at half-back, with Tuilagi and Sam James back together in the centres.

Fresh from his match-winning try in the final minute of Sharks’ last league game against Bath, Arron Reed will link up with Tom O’Flaherty and Joe Carpenter again in the back three.

Ethan Caine, Si McIntyre and Oosthuizen provide front-row support from the bench with Josh Beaumont and Sam Dugdale making up the rest of the forwards replacements.

Quirke, Ford and Roebuck offer explosive back-line options off the bench.

Sale Sharks Starting XV:

15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom O’Flaherty, 13. Sam James, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Arron Reed, 10. Rob Du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Ewan Ashman, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Jono Ross ©, 7. Tom Curry, 8. Jean-Luc Du Preez


16. Ethan Caine, 17. Si McIntyre, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Josh Beaumont, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. George Ford, 23. Tom Roebuck.

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