Tom Vickers’ Northampton Saints v Gloucester preview: LV= Cup brings big chances

STARTING CHANCE - Glenn Dickson (Picture: Linda Dawson)

STARTING CHANCE - Glenn Dickson (Picture: Linda Dawson)

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The LV= Cup may arrive to more of a whimper than a fan fare, but there are many Saints players who will welcome it with open arms.

With international fixtures whisking players away and some senior stars in need of a rest, the competition provides a big opportunity.

A big opportunity for players on the fringe of the first team to stake their claim ahead of the return of Premiership action in a couple of weeks’ time.

A big opportunity for Academy youngsters to realise their potential.

A big opportunity to play on the big stage in front of crowds far in excess of those that attend Wanderers matches on Monday night.

And a big opportunity to ensure Saints pick up the first piece of silverware this season.

It may not be the most prestigious trophy, but a success at Exeter’s Sandy Park in March next year would not be a bad thing.

No club would turn down a day of celebration and with Saints boasting a squad packed with talented players there is no reason they shouldn’t fight on all three fronts.

Of course, the main aims have to be the Premiership and Heineken Cup, with Jim Mallinder having come so close to claiming both pots in his time at Saints.

Two final disppointments have put the kaibosh on those efforts, but there is a real belief that this can be the year in at least one of those major competitions.

To win one of those, though, you must have an entire squad that is ready and raring to go.

And the LV= Cup at least ensures that players who haven’t had much first-team action will be firing on all cylinders.

Players such as Glenn Dickson and Rob Verbakel, who have been making big strides with the Wanderers since arriving from Otago during the summer, are a case in point.

Then there is Dom Waldouck, captaining Saints for the first time this Saturday, who is continuing in his bid to reach full fitness after a nasty injury last season.

There’s Tom Stephenson, a talented Under 20s centre, Teimana Harrison and Ben Nutley, back row forwards with immense pedigree.

And there are more senior players such as James Wilson, Ken Pisi and Mike Haywood, who have had more than a taste of first team action this season but are desperate for more.

All in all, Mallinder’s mix is a potent one.

And though the LV= Cup might not bring the biggest buzz of the season, there are still plenty of reasons to welcome its arrival.