Wood admits England stars face fight to regain Saints places

SAINTS CHALLENGE AHEAD - England and Northampton forward Tom Wood

SAINTS CHALLENGE AHEAD - England and Northampton forward Tom Wood

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Tom Wood admits Saints’ England contingent know it won’t be easy to regain their first-team spots when they return to Franklin’s Gardens.

Wood, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Luther Burrell and Lee Dickson have all represented the Red Rose during the Six Nations.

They will be back at Northampton following the conclusion of the final round of fixtures this weekend, which sees Stuart Lancaster’s side travel to Italy.

Meanwhile, the players left at Saints will be seeking silverware as they head to Sandy Park to face Exeter Chiefs in the LV= Cup final on Sunday.

Jim Mallinder’s men have won all seven of their games during the Six Nations period and Wood is now hoping they can finish the job to claim a trophy.

He said: “It’s always brilliant to get some silverware under your belt. It can fill you with confidence.

“To be in this situation where we are away and the boys are still winning week in week out is a real position of strength.

“We know that when we return to the club it will be a healthy environment and one where we’re really going to have to fight for our places.”

Wood has been impressed by the youngsters who have stepped up for Saints in recent weeks.

And he is also glad to see some more experienced faces making their return to the first-team picture.

“You’ve got young players scoring tries and playing well – Will Hooley and Tom Stephenson as well as Tom Collins who returned last week,” said the influential flanker.

“It’s also been a chance for the likes of James Craig, Ben Nutley and Ben Foden to get game time after injuries which will be important.

“It’s a real squad effort, a rugby season. With the amount of games you play in a year, it’s getting on for 40 now, you’re going to need your full squad and we can do that now.”