Wood backing Saints to cope without England stars

STRENGTH IN DEPTH - Tom Wood has backed Saints to cope without their England stars

STRENGTH IN DEPTH - Tom Wood has backed Saints to cope without their England stars

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Tom Wood says he has every faith that Saints can cope in the absence of their England stars.

Wood and club-mate Lee Dickson are among 23 men retained by the national team ahead of the start of the autumn internationals on November 10.

And Saints will also be without Ben Foden, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes for the clash with east midlands rivals Leicester Tigers on Saturday as the trio are injured.

Phil Dowson is back in the frame for a Welford Road start as he was one of nine players sent back to their clubs ahead of the weekend’s Aviva Premiership action.

And Wood believes Saints have the tools to get the job done against the Tigers on Saturday, despite the loss of their international players.

“The likes of Dylan and that we like to try to come back and show our presence during England duty, but it’s in the lads’ hands now,” said Wood.

“We’ve got every faith in those guys to step up and do a good job for us.”

Wood will be a contender for a start in the back row when England’s autumn international campaign kicks off against Fiji at Twickenham.

And the flanker, who was sidelined towards the end of last season with a toe injury, says he is fit and raring to go, despite a few bruises sustained in the 16-6 defeat to Saracens last Saturday.

“It’s just the usual sort of problems that come from playing week in, week out really, picking up the odd bruise and bump here and there and just trying to manage that from week to week,” said Wood.

“I’m just really pleased to have been in the Saints team week in, week out and getting a run of rugby under my belt. After last season I’ll take a few bruises any day.”