Saints boss Mallinder faces selection dilemma

ADDING TO HIS SQUAD - Jim Mallinder (Picture: Linda Dawson)
ADDING TO HIS SQUAD - Jim Mallinder (Picture: Linda Dawson)
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Saints boss Jim Mallinder admits he faces some difficult selection decisions ahead of Saturday’s game against Newcastle Falcons.

Northampton welcome back their England contingent for the clash as well as a number of men who have been rested in recent weeks.

But those absences have not hindered Saints, who have secured five successive wins in all competitions.

They will be expected to put in another dominant showing in this weekend’s Premiership game at Franklin’s Gardens and Mallinder admits he is finding it tough to decide on a matchday squad.

“With so many players called up for international duty, the autumn period is always an important part of the season,” said the director of rugby.

“With that in mind I’ve been pleased with how many players have come in and performed well over the past four weeks, both in the Aviva Premiership and LV= Cup.”

“We’ve had eight debutants in all and the squad have built a good amount of momentum with four wins on top of the Ospreys victory back in October.

“We’ve played well on the whole and several players have staked a claim for continued inclusion.

“It makes our selections as coaches that bit more difficult.

“The England boys produced some outstanding performances over the three Tests at Twickenham but they are by no means certain to go straight back into the starting 15 this weekend.”

Newly-promoted Newcastle have performed well so far this season, winning three of their seven Premiership games.

And Mallinder, whose side currently sit second in the standings, is refusing to underestimate Dean Richards’ determined team.

“The squad have done well recently but we’re still missing a number of players with their respective countries and to injury and it is vital we respect the challenge posed by Newcastle,” said Mallinder.

“Under Dean Richards they have shown that they are a match for anyone in the Premiership on their day and the 23 players selected for Saturday’s game will have to be right on their game if we want to keep our run going and remain unbeaten at home.”