Jim Mallinder admits Saints have missed George Pisi – and says he is looking forward to having the Samoan star back in action.
Pisi is able to return to the Northampton squad for Saturday’s game against Bath after his six-week suspension came to an end on Monday.
The centre was banned for a tip tackle on Ireland’s Tommy Bowe during an autumn international game at the Aviva Stadium last month.
George North has been filling in at 13 in recent weeks, but Saints prefer to play the Wales star on the wing.
And Pisi’s return should allow them to do that when Bath come calling at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve missed George Pisi,” said Mallinder. “He’s a top class player and for somebody like that to be out for six weeks is very, very frustrating, particularly when it doesn’t happen on your watch as he got banned playing for Samoa.
“He’s been a big loss to us and we’ve had a few injuries as well with (Ben) Foden being out, James Wilson and Dom Waldouck, a lot of our senior outside backs, but we’ve got through it.
“We’ve got a little bit of cover coming in as well and with George back it’s good.
“He’s very fresh. He’s been doing lots of conditioning, keeping his skills level up and he’s really looking forward to returning.
“George loves the rain and the wind, coming from Samoa, so it will be ideal conditions for him.”
Further good news comes in the form of Wilson and Waldouck, who are on the recovery trail from calf injuries.
Wilson will be out for a few more weeks yet after recently disposing of his surgical boot, but Waldouck could be available for this weekend’s game.
“James is coming back,” said Mallinder. “Sometimes you just tweak your calf and sometimes it’s a little bit more than that. Unfortunately, his was a little bit more than that.
“Hopefully he’ll be back in a few weeks’ time, we’re not exactly sure. He’s been in a boot, he’s out of it now and hopefully he’ll be back soon.
“Dom Waldouck pulled a calf muscle so he’s not a million miles away and he’ll hopefully be available this weekend.”