Want-away Ashton set for Saints start
CHRIS ASHTON will start for Northampton against Harlequins tonight after serving a four-week suspension, despite doubts over his future at Franklin's Gardens.
The England wing has been strongly linked with a summer move to Premiership rivals Saracens, and Saints boss Jim Mallinder has already indicated the club will not break the bank to keep him.
Ashton was banned for pulling the hair of Leicester wing Alesana Tuilagi. In his absence, Northampton have won their last three matches and climbed into the top three.
Mallinder has brought Ashton straight back into the Northampton side to face table-topping Harlequins, in place of the Russia international and former Blackrock College student Vasily Artemyev.
Harlequins have included scrum-half Danny Care at the end of a week in which he was banned from England Six Nations duty after being arrested for drink driving in the early hours of New Year's Day.
That was Care's second alcohol-related incident in the space of three weeks, having been arrested and fined by police for being drunk and disorderly on December 10.
England interim head coach Stuart Lancaster told Care he would not be considered for international honours until he could prove he was trustworthy again. "I will do everything to learn my lesson and come back stronger," he said.
The 25-year-old was backed to do exactly that by Lancaster, who said: "Hopefully it will give him the kickstart he needs."
Care was man of the match for Harlequins in their victory over Exeter on New Year's Eve and starts in an unchanged back division, with Rory Clegg continuing at fly-half.