Dorian West has hinted Tom Wood could play a part against Leinster this weekend as the flanker aims to be fit for the opening day of the Premiership season.
Wood was with the Saints squad in France last week but played no part in the 30-28 defeat to Zebre at Millau on Friday night.
He hasn’t played for Northampton since making a 40-minute appearance against Wasps on March 24 due to a problematic foot injury.
But the 25-year-old has been taking part in training, including last month’s tough army camp at RAF Honington, as he aims to be fit for the first competitive game at Gloucester on September 1.
And West is hopeful Wood will be able to play a part in Saturday’s game against the Heineken Cup holders or if not, at Murrayfield against Edinburgh a week on Friday.
“That’s the plan,” said West, when asked if Wood would play a part in either of the two remaining pre-season friendlies.
“We’re gradually building up what he’s doing, he’s done everything asked of him so far and not shown any signs of struggling.
“We’ll gradually build him up and it’s all about being right for Gloucester, not anything else.”
Wood might not have been in action against Zebre, but a number of Saints’ new signings did get some game time.
Luther Burrell scored his first try for the club, while James Wilson, Dom Waldouck, Gerrit-Jan van Velze and Ken Pisi also played their part.
“I thought they did really well,” said West. “I thought Wilson did some good things in the second half, so did Waldouck and we’ve been impressed with van Velze, he’s done well in training and he looks a decent player.
“We’re quite happy with where we’ve at, we’ve made some good signings and we’ll carry on working hard for the next few weeks making sure everyone’s up to speed for the first league game.”