Saints have dropped England’s Tom Wood to the bench for Saturday’s crucial Aviva Premiership trio to Exeter.
Wood is replaced by in the back row by Calum Clark in one of four changes to the pack that started in last Sunday’s hearttbreaking 17-16 defeat to Saracens at stadium:mk.
Alsso dropped to the replacements bench are Alex Waller and Samu Manoa, with Soan Tonga’uiha and Mark Sorenson stepping up, while the injured Brin Mujati is replaced at prop by Paul Doran-Jones.
The backline is unchanged, but there is no place on the bench for Tom May as Luther Burrell replaces him.
Just a point separates the Saints from the Chiefs in the Premiership table, and director of rugby Jim Mallinder is under no illusions as to how tough tomorrow’s game at Sandy Park will be.
“Exeter like to play a good 15-man game,” said Mallinder.
“We know how tough it is there and will have to be accurate in everything we do.
“We were a point away from winning away against the second-placed team in the league (Saracens).
“That was positive, but we know that not many teams win in Exeter and we’ll have to play well on Saturday.
“It’s a very important game, but so is every game in the Aviva Premiership. They’re in a similar position to us in the table and we’ll have to play well to win.
“We’ve had some tough games which haven’t gone our way. But we’re still confident and know that what counts is where you finish at the end of the season.”
Saints team to play Exeter, Aviva Premiership, Sandy Park, Saturday, January 5, 3pm
Ben Foden; Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Dom Waldouck, Jamie Elliott; Stephen Myler, Lee Dickson; Soane Tonga’uiha, Dylan Hartley, Paul Doran-Jones, Courtney Lawes, Mark Sorenson, Calum Clark, Phil Dowson, GJ van Velze. Replacements: Mike Haywood, Alex Waller, Tom Mercey, Samu Manoa, Tom Wood, Martin Roberts, Ryan Lamb, Luther Burrell