Tom Vickers’ Saints preview: No excuses for Saints as big guns return

BACK IN ACTION - George Pisi returns to the Saints starting line-up at Sale tonight
BACK IN ACTION - George Pisi returns to the Saints starting line-up at Sale tonight
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Saints have something of a no-win situation to contend with when they travel to Sale tonight (Friday).

Win, and critics will point out that the Sharks had won just one of their nine Premiership games going into the clash.

Lose, and the sceptics, who don’t believe Saints have what it takes to win the title, will round on Jim Mallinder and his men.

It’s a tricky situation, especially as the Sharks, who are five points adrift at the bottom of the table, are so desperate to find some bite in their bid for survival.

But with Ben Foden and George Pisi back in the side after injury and international duty respectively, Saints have the tools to prove they’re ruthless rather than toothless.

The return of Dylan Hartley will also be key due to the leadership qualities and various other attributes he brings to the mix.

And Saints will have no excuses should they fail to put in a good performance on Friday night.

A repeat of what happened at London Irish last month will not be acceptable.

Such is the increase in expectation levels over the past few years, that Mallinder is expected to garner victory from almost every game.

And with a big five weeks coming up, at home and abroad, triumph at the Salford City Stadium is essential.

But beware a Sharks side who have won their last three games in all competitions on their own turf and who have recently acquired the services of hard taskmaster John Mitchell to add some guidance.

It’s all set up for a humdinger of a Friday night up north and for Saints it’s a case of win at all costs.