Dickens says Clark return will ‘be like having a new signing’ for Saints

Calum Clark sustained a shoulder injury in a pre-season win at Wasps in October (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Calum Clark sustained a shoulder injury in a pre-season win at Wasps in October (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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While Saints supporters continue to wonder whether the club will be adding any more names to this season’s squad, an old face promises to provide a fresh impetus in the months to come.

Calum Clark continues to recover from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the entirety of last season and the club are hopeful that he will be fit in time for the start of the new campaign.

The flanker was the Northampton supporters’ and players’ player of the year for the 2014/15 season, with his indefatigable displays catapulting him into the England picture.

But he injured his shoulder in a pre-season match at Wasps last October and, having aggravated it in training, he required surgery to rectify the issue.

That meant he was unable to play a single minute of the competitive stuff during a frustrating season for Saints.

But assistant coach Alan Dickens said: “Calum Clark is still on the road to recovery.

“Everyone wishes him well and him coming back this season will be like having a new signing, with him having not played last year.

“In the past week or two, he’s been really positive around the club and it’s really good to see him bouncing around.

“Hopefully he’ll be ready and raring to go.

“It’s been a more individual programme for him so far and he’s been going through the stages to return.”

Another man who should come back fit and firing is wing George North.

The Wales star injured his hamstring in his country’s first Test in New Zealand, meaning he has been forced to take a longer breather than he would have liked.

However, that could eventually be a positive for both his club and his country, with North having played so many matches since bursting onto the scene at Scarlets.

And when asked for an update on North’s fitness, Dickens said: “Similar to Calum Clark, he’s got his own individual programme and is working towards getting fit as soon as possible.”

One thing is for sure, Saints will need all of their stars available if they are to better last season’s fifth-place finish in the Aviva Premiership.

With ambitious Bristol replacing London Irish in the league this season, teams like Wasps and Leicester Tigers strengthening significantly and Saracens having done a stunning double last season, it looks like one of the toughest tests for years.

And Dickens said: “You look at the fixtures and every year, it never looks easy.

“You’ve got good clubs, good sides in there and it’s a tough league.

“We know that week to week, as well as the league, we’re competing in Europe, which is where we want to be.

“It’s exciting now that we’re about seven weeks off the first game and we’re closing in on that first pre-season game (against Castres in Camares on August 13).

“I’m sure the boys will be raring to go and it will be a tough league again this season.”