Mallinder: England axe will motivate Saints pair

POINT TO PROVE - Saints pair Ben Foden (left) and Lee Dickson (Picture: Linda Dawson)
POINT TO PROVE - Saints pair Ben Foden (left) and Lee Dickson (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Saints boss Jim Mallinder says Ben Foden and Lee Dickson will be ‘highly motivated’ after their England omission.

The Northampton duo were sent back to Franklin’s Gardens earlier this week and will play no part in the Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday.

Instead, they are likely to be strutting their stuff for Saints in an LV= Cup clash with Exeter at Sandy Park.

And Mallinder expects to see them in good form as they look to prove a point to England boss Stuart Lancaster.

“Although we’re disappointed for Lee Dickson and Ben Foden individually that they won’t be involved for England against Scotland, from a club perspective we’re happy they will be available for us,” said the Saints boss.

“Lee and Ben are very competitive individuals and they will be highly motivated to put in good performances on Saturday.”

Saints will be without Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood for Saturday’s clash as the trio have been retained by England.

But Mallinder was happy with the amount of flexibility his squad showed in the 26-7 win against Gloucester last weekend and he feels there is plenty of strength in depth.

“Samu Manoa showed his versatility, playing at blindside flanker and getting into the right positions to make big hits and stop Gloucester attacks last weekend,” he said.

“With Courtney away with England and GJ (van Velze) injured, it’s good to see players fitting in well and for others like Samu to be able to play in different positions.

“There are some big games coming up and it’s important we are in good shape for the next few weeks.

“Training is certainly positive at the moment and there is still plenty of competition for places.”