11:40am Friday 2nd March 2012
Steve Borthwick will return from injury to lead Saracens in their crucial Premiership clash with Northampton Saints at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
The former England captain has been out since suffering a calf tear in Treviso back in January. Borthwick returns to the side and Charlie Hodgson also starts at fly-half after being released from the England squad for the weekend.
The Men in Black are only four points clear of third-placed Northampton after losing their last two league matches.
The battle for a home semi-final is warming up after the champions had looked odds on to clinch a top-two finish. But their last-gasp defeat to Leicester Tigers followed by Friday’s 16-11 loss at Worcester Warriors has blown the race wide open.
Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall said: “We’re three games into this section of games. We won away to Wasps which was a great victory for us, we lost with 25 seconds to go against a very strong Leicester team and we’ve come to Worcester, where not too many teams win, and we’re unbelievably disappointed to only get a losing bonus point.
“We’re hugely competitive but we know that we’ve got to be more disciplined than that. Playing 30 minutes of good rugby isn’t enough when you are away from home.
“All the games are important. We’ve got six games left in the regular season. We want to be in the top four and the top two for a home semi-final so this weekend is very important for us.”
Brad Barritt, who has been away on England duty but will be watching his team-mates on Sunday has backed them to respond to their recent setbacks.
The tough-tacking centre said: "The guys are obviously hurt after the Worcester defeat. I'm sure the guys will be back on track to play at Northampton at home. It's a huge opportunity and Sarries have a great culture in terms of bouncing back from these setbacks.
"The huge benefit at Sarries is we've got real squad depth and anyone that steps into the jersey can perform equally well. I'm sure the team is confident that they will learn from their mistakes up at Worcester and put them right on Sunday."
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