Jim Mallinder has told Saints’ young guns that shirts are on the line in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Mallinder has mixed his side up for today’s trip to Newcastle Falcons, giving plenty of fledgling talents a chance to shine.
And with the first-team having endured a stuttering start to the season, the door could be open for some of those coming into the team to cement their place for the coming weeks.
Mallinder said: “We take the competition seriously and we’ve said to the lads that if they play well, they’ve got the chance to move up and continue playing in the first team because there are Premiership games coming thick and fast.
“A lot of international players will still be away when we go to Worcester in the Premiership in a couple of weeks’ time, so opportunities are there.
“The pressure is now on these lads because they need to play and they need to play well if they are to be included down the track.
“(The likes of Tom Collins and Howard Packman) have proved they can do it at Wanderers level, and against Cambridge and Oxford they were outstanding.
“But it’s one thing to do it at that level, and it’s another to do it against good, professional clubs.
“I will be able to give a more accurate answer as to how far these players are from starting every week in a couple of weeks’ time.
“Tom Collins has got experience, Howard Packman not as much, and they’ve been around a bit, in our system, and now it’s time to show us what they can do.”
The youngsters coming into the team will be charged with helping to build some momentum for the club.
Saints have yet to win back-to-back matches this season, but could do it for the first time by beating Newcastle this afternoon.
And Mallinder, who steered his team to a 23-20 win against Gloucester last weekend, said: “Momentum is a massive thing.
“We’ve won two out of the four games last month, but it would be nice if we could pick up a couple of victories in the next couple of weeks.
“That would take us with good momentum into the Worcester and Newcastle matches in the Premiership.”