Saints didn't want to risk Rory against Leinster

Rory Hutchinson got plenty of minutes during Scotland's World Cup preparations
Rory Hutchinson got plenty of minutes during Scotland's World Cup preparations

Alan Dickens says withdrawing Rory Hutchinson from last Thursday's pre-season clash with Leinster was purely precautionary.

Hutchinson was set to line up in the 13 shirt for Saints at Franklin's Gardens, but he was replaced on the team-sheet by Fraser Dingwall.

A shoulder injury was what prevented Hutchinson from playing, but he looks unlikely to face a spell on the sidelines.

He had featured heavily in Scotland's World Cup warm-up matches before being surprisingly omitted from the squad to travel to Japan.

That means he is now available for Saints and there is a chance he could face Sale Sharks in the Premiership Rugby Cup game at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday.

"It was precautionary," said defence coach Dickens when asked about Hutchinson missing the Leinster match.

"It was a pre-season game and he'd already been involved in three or four games so far during August and early September.

"At a push he probably could have played but we just made the decision that he wasn't needed and the rest would have been good for him."

On Saints' overall injury situation ahead of the trip to Sale, Dickens added: "Jamie Gibson (shoulder) is pretty close and he missed last week as a precautionary measure.

"We've got a lot of players who are close to returning and they're all training.

"There's a lot more activity on the side of the pitch in terms of their return to play.

"A lot of players are at different stages and in the next few weeks we'll see a lot of players coming back."