Clark to make long-awaited Saints comeback against Chiefs

Calum Clark will make his first appearance since May 2015 when Exeter Chiefs come to Franklin's Gardens on Friday night (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Calum Clark will make his first appearance since May 2015 when Exeter Chiefs come to Franklin's Gardens on Friday night (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Calum Clark will play his first competitive game for Saints since the 2015 Premiership play-off semi-final when he lines up against Exeter Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).

Clark, who was Saints’ players’ player and supporters’ player of the year for 2014/15, missed the whole of the previous campaign after injuring his shoulder in a pre-season win at Wasps last October.

But he has played in two recent Wanderers matches, against Newcastle and Worcester, and is now deemed fit enough to line up at seven against the Chiefs.

Skipper Tom Wood has been rested after playing the full 80 minutes in the first four games of the season, with Lee Dickson (groin) and Dylan Hartley (back) also on the list of missing men.

But Michael Paterson is back in the team, replacing Sam Dickinson in the second row.

Full-back Ben Foden will captain Saints in Wood’s absence.

Meanwhile, Exeter have England wing Jack Nowell back on the bench after he recovered from a thumb injury.

In the front row, Ben Moon and Jack Yeandle start in place of Alec Hepburn and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Geoff Parling is given the nod over Damian Welch at lock, while Kai Horstmann gets his first start of the season with Julian Salvi the man to miss out.

In the back division, the sole change sees England international Ollie Devoto start in the midfield alongside Henry Slade, with Sam Hill dropping to the bench.

Saints: Foden (c); K Pisi, G Pisi, Mallinder, North; Myler, Groom; A Waller, Haywood, Brookes; Lawes, Paterson; Gibson, Clark, Picamoles.

Replacements: Clare, Ma’afu, Hill, Dickinson, Harrison, Kessell, Hutchinson, Tuala.

Exeter Chiefs: Turner; Woodburn, Devoto, Slade, Whitten; Steenson, Chudley; Moon, Yeandle, Holmes; Lees, Parling; Dennis, Horstmann, Waldrom.

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Hepburn, Williams, Welch, White, Lewis, Nowell.