Forwards coach West has confidence in Saints’ strength in depth

BACK IN THE FRAME - Calum Clark (Picture: Linda Dawson)

BACK IN THE FRAME - Calum Clark (Picture: Linda Dawson)

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Dorian West says Saints are more confident than ever that they can cope with international absences during the Six Nations.

Northampton will be without seven England players, including injured duo Alex Corbisiero and Ben Foden, and Wales star George North for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Exeter Chiefs.

In years gone by, Jim Mallinder’s men have been guilty of suffering a dip in form during the Six Nations.

But West is confident the squad, which has claimed 18 victories in 22 games in all competitions this season, can handle the strain of key league matches in the coming weeks.

“We’ve got a strong squad that can compete,” said forwards coach West.

“We feel more confident than we have done in the past in this period, but that’s only in the back of your mind.

“You’ve got to go there, you’ve got to produce the goods and put in a real good performance to get over a top Exeter team.”

Saints will welcome back their England Saxons players this weekend, with Alex Waller, Calum Clark and Sam Dickinson returning to the fray.

But Tom Mercey might not make it in time for the trip to Sandy Park, as he is currently struggling with a knee injury sustained on Saxons duty.

“He’s still not quite right, but we don’t quite have to make decisions on our starting team just yet so hopefully he’ll get better in time,” said West.

“It’s only been less than two weeks, so a relatively short period of time, and we’ll see where he is on Friday.”