Grayson: Injuries no longer mean a crisis for Saints

Paul Grayson

Paul Grayson

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The number of Saints struck down by injury or suspension may have hit double figures - but you wouldn’t know it judging by the positivity at Franklin’s Gardens.

There’s a different feel about the place this season. A new-found confidence that the squad is up to the task, despite several key players being sidelined.

Had Dylan Hartley, Ben Foden, George Pisi and Christian Day - to name but a few of the current absentees - been out at any single point during the previous campaign, the alarm bells may have been ringing.

But it is a mark of Saints’ development that there is no longer a fear that the men coming in for those big-name players won’t be up to the task.

In fact, this season’s replacements could even be said to have added to the side.

The likes of James Wilson and Luther Burrell, both signed during the summer, have added panache and power to the side, covering for Ben Foden and George Pisi respectively.

Their impact has been such that Saints head to London Irish this afternoon (Sat, ko 3pm) with five wins from as many games under their belt, sitting pretty at the top of the Aviva Premiership.

The big-name, big-game players haven’t been missed as much as many onlookers may have thought they would be.

And assistant coach Paul Grayson attributes that to a variety of reasons, including an increase in the maturity of the squad and a successful summer recruitment drive.

He explained: “You’ve got to look at the stability of the squad and how it’s grown over the years. The players didn’t arrive here ready-made.

“Guys like Dylan, Lee Dickson, Stephen Myler and even guys who have come more recently, like Vasily Artemyev, they have developed over the period of time they’ve been here and are now in a position to influence the team.

“They are all more mature players so as an environment for others to come into from other clubs, we’re a lot further down the track than bringing players into a relatively inexperienced squad.

“All those things help, as does the quality of the work we do on recruitment and the time we spend on it.

“We want to bring players in who we think will be able to add to what we’ve got and are keen to learn and improve, and are hungry for success.

“All of those things go into making the squad that little bit stronger and you’ve got to put it on the field on a Saturday afternoon. That’s down to the players to pull their socks up, get stuck in and get some wins.”

And with Hartley (eye) and Day (shin) added to the injury list this week, Grayson will hope Mike Haywood and Mark Sorenson can answer his call.