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Northampton 19:45 Gloucester

Saint Percival on comeback trail

By Ben Blackmore.   Last Updated: 06/07/06 1:56pm

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Northampton Saints are rapidly moving towards a clean bill of health as their longterm absentees return from injury ahead of the new season.

Second row James Percival is the major figure back in pre-season training, fully 11 months since he broke his neck at the start of the last campaign.

Surgery and extensive rehabilitation have helped the 23-year-old lock back to fitness, and Saints' medical manager Cliff Eaton believes he is back stronger than ever.

"James underwent a neck strengthening programme as part of his rehabilitation and when he went for testing, he was shown to have the strongest neck muscles that Don Gatherer's clinic had ever recorded.

"We are delighted he is able to resume his rugby career as of today."

Elsewhere, stand-off Luke Myring and centres Rhodri Davies and Seamus Mallon are all embarking on pre-season training, bolstering Saints squad ahead of a season that marks their return to the Heineken Cup.

Myring has recovered from shoulder surgery, while Mallon also went under the knife for knee construction, and controlled running sessions have seen Davies' groin problem clear up.

Ben Lewitt is another individual on the comeback trail, following a toe operation five weeks ago, and he will travel with the squad for their trip to Newquay.

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