Jim Mallinder says Saints will not rush star centre Rob Horne back after his recent injury issues.
Horne has not played for Northampton, who he joined from Super Rugby side the Waratahs during the summer, since the win against Harlequins on September 30.
He picked up a shoulder injury that kept him out for a week before suffering a calf injury while preparing for his comeback.
And despite the fact Saints have not won since Horne has been sidelined, the coaches will not catapult him back into the team until they are sure he has fully recovered.
“It’s been very unfortunate with Rob, that he’s been out with a calf injury,” Mallinder said.
“We’re not rushing him back.
“He’s been out running today (Wednesday) and he’s vastly improved from where he’s been.
“He will be back very, very soon.”
And Mallinder added: “He was out for a week with a shoulder injury but that allowed him to run and he was running with the S&C coach and unfortunately pulled his calf.
“He didn’t actually do it in any rugby training or a match - he was doing it rehabbing from his shoulder and it put his calf out, but that’s life.
“That’s what happens in professional sport.
“He’s one of our main players.
“This year, we’ve targeted certain players and he was one of the top ones to come over from the southern hemisphere.
“He’s a key international so it’s a loss not having him, but that’s what happens and we need to make sure the personnel we bring in can play for the team and don’t let the team down.”
Saints suffered three further injury issues last Saturday as James Craig, Christian Day and young full-back George Furbank were all forced off early on at Exeter.
And Mallinder said: “James got a bang to the head so we’ve got to take that steady.
“Christian Day got a really bad cut under his knee but that will mend so he will be fine.
“Young Furbank went up, took a lovely high ball and unfortunately landed badly. There’s a little bit of damage to his foot and his knee, but nothing major. We’d hope to see him back in a week or two.”
David Ribbans is another player currently sidelined after he suffered an ankle injury in the Wanderers’ win against Newcastle Falcons on October 23.
“He’s still in a boot and he’s still a few weeks off, but he’s making progress,” Mallinder said.
One piece of good news comes in the form of Piers Francis, who was released by England on Tuesday evening.
Francis picked up a knock in Saints’ most recent Aviva Premiership game, against Wasps on October 28, but he is now back in training.
“He went away to Portugal with England and I don’t think he took part in much physical training, but I know that he did take a part in training at Pennyhill Park during the past couple of days,” Mallinder said.
“He got released on Tuesday night and he trained with our squad on Wednesday morning.”