Hartley has been cited for swinging an arm at Sean O'Brien at the weekend
The head of England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) has backed the under-fire Dylan Hartley to continue in his role as national captain.
Hartley has been cited for a cheap, cynical shot on Sean O'Brien last Friday night as Leinster thumped Northampton at Franklin's Gardens in the Champions Cup.
Hartley is due to find out on Wednesday whether or not he will be banned and for how long. He has already been suspended for a combined 54 weeks in his career thus far.
Speaking to BBC Sport, the RFU's Chief Executive Ian Ritchie said: "I think Dylan's got credit in the bank. I think most people would say it's been a fantastic year. We've had 13 wins out of 13 and Dylan has made a huge contribution and he should be allowed to continue that."
Speaking about the incident he said: "Obviously it's disappointing when he gets sent off but we'll wait and see what happens.
"If he's eligible to be in contention for the Six Nations then it's a matter for Eddie.
"He's been a great leader and his performances on the pitch, and the way he's helped Eddie with the team... I think he's done a fantastic job."
Leinster's Sean O’Brien injured following an incident with Dylan Hartley of Northampton Saints
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie
He added: "Ever since Dylan's been involved in the set-up, he has been the perfect ambassador on and off the pitch."