Jim Mallinder says George North is in contention to face Bath on Saturday.
North has not played in any of Saints’ four pre-season matches, but returned to training recently.
He has overcome the hamstring injury suffered during Wales’ summer tour of New Zealand and could play a part in this weekend’s Aviva Premiership opener at Franklin’s Gardens.
But Mallinder knows the club must be careful with the 24-year-old to make sure he does not come back too soon.
“George is back running and he’s been back training with the team for the past week or so,” Mallinder said.
“We’ve just got to decide if it’s the right thing to put him in this weekend.
“Clearly he’s not played any of the pre-season matches, but he’s now up and running and the last thing we want him to do is come in and niggle that again and be out for a few weeks.
“We’ve got to decide when he’s 100 per cent fit and when he is then he’ll be involved. He’s certainly in contention this weekend.”