JIM MALLINDER says Courtney Lawes will be fit for the start of the new season after being given the all clear on his shin injury.
And Saints could be boosted by the return of another England star as Mallinder also revealed Tom Wood could be back in time for the beginning of the pre-season campaign on August 10.
Lawes has not played for Saints since the win at Newcastle on New Year’s Day after suffering knee and shin problems.
The lock missed the majority of the Six Nations with a knee problem and was then hit with a shin injury, which ended his season.
It also ruled him out of England’s summer tour of South Africa, but he will now return for his club’s pre-season fixtures.
“Courtney Lawes had the all clear last week so he’s now back in full training,” said Mallinder.
“We’re looking forward to him playing in August, in the pre-season games. He’ll be fully fit and ready to go in September.”
Wood, like Lawes, saw his season blighted by injury, and has been sidelined since March 24 with a toe injury.
It had been feared the problem was irreparable, placing Wood’s future in the game in doubt, but Mallinder is confident the player will make a full recovery ahead of the new season.
“Tom Wood is improving,” said the Saints boss. “He’s really improving all the time. He’s not yet got up to the stage of running on his foot but the toe is improving.
“He’s been to see the specialist who is very positive and fingers crossed if everything goes to plan he will take part in some of the pre-season games in August and be fit for us in September.
“The root cause is a little bit genetic, I think that’s simply what it is.
“In a rugby player like Tom Wood, who is big, athletic, strong and powerful, in some cases there is a lot of pressure going through your big toe, particularly in terms of scrummaging in that type of position.
“He’s had a bit of a weakness there and hopefully with a little bit of a rest he won’t have any more problems with it.”