Jim Mallinder has backed Calum Clark to handle a potentially hostile reception at Welford Road this weekend – after confirming the flanker will be in the Saints squad to face Leicester.
Clark’s 32-week ban, which he received for being found guilty of hyper-extending the arm of Leicester prop Rob Hawkins in the LV= Cup final in March, come to an end on Friday.
It means he will be eligible to make his first appearance since being slapped with the suspension and he is likely to be given a white-hot welcome at Welford Road on Saturday.
But Mallinder has no qualms about throwing the 23-year-old into the action and says Clark is fully focused on getting the job done for Saints in the first east midlands derby of the season.
“When he got suspended you look at the next game he’s available and that’s this coming Saturday so you can guarantee Calum will be in the squad this week,” said the director of rugby.
“There are no worries about that whatsoever. There are so many things that happen in rugby, you can’t keep looking back and talking about that.
“You’ve got to look to the future and it’s all about this Saturday.
“I’m sure Leicester aren’t talking about it, we as a team have not spoken about it and Calum is focused on his performance, getting back to playing for Northampton and doing the best he can to beat Leicester.”
And he added: “Leicester is a hostile environment, without a doubt,” he said. “It’s going to be at full capacity from what I’ve heard: 24,000 people there.
“Calum has been thinking about that throughout this period and I’m sure he’ll be fine on Saturday.”