Bad break for Saint Clarke

By Rob Lancaster.   Last Updated: 05/09/06 12:53pm

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Northampton are likely to be without centre Jon Clarke for four months after he had surgery to repair a fractured ankle.

The 22-year-old suffered the injury during the Saints' 25-23 home victory over Newcastle on Sunday.

He had to be helped from the field midway through the first half of the Guinness Premiership fixture and underwent an operation on Monday.

‚Ç£It is always disappointing when a player is injured but I do feel for Jon as this was looking like his season to establish himself at the top level," head coach Paul Grayson said on the club's website.

"On the plus side, he will hopefully be available for the latter part of the season and may still be able to force his way into World Cup contention.‚Ç¥

The injury is a blow for the former Bristol player, who was selected in England's Senior National Academy squad in August.

Clarke has already represented England at under-21 and A level and was being tipped to make his full debut in the autumn internationals.