Ben Foden says Tom Collins is exactly what Saints need as they seek to find their best attacking form.
Collins excelled in the 8-3 Aviva Premiership win against Exeter Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens on New Year’s Day.
The 21-year-old wing came in for his first start of the season, impressing with some clever kicking and direct running.
And now Foden is hoping Collins can keep his place in the starting 15 for the east midlands derby against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday.
“He did play brilliantly against Exeter,” Foden said.
“He’s been waiting because he’s had a couple of niggly injuries but it’s good to see him get on the field.
“He’s sharp, he shows confidence and he’s exactly what we need in the backs.
“He takes chances and he did that against Exeter.
“He’s really put down a marker and hopefully we’ll see him in the side this week.”
Collins is the latest of a group of youngsters to show they can step in for more senior stars at Saints.
Injuries to the likes of Ahsee Tuala and Jamie Elliott opened the door for him, just like the absence of Tom Wood did for in-form flanker Teimana Harrison.
And Foden said: “The younger boys are always going to push the older boys and you can see that they’re getting their chance and they’re taking it.
“Teimana’s a prime example, Mikey Haywood too.
“It’s always good for the likes of Calum (Clark), Woody and Dyls (Hartley) to know that they’ve got guys breathing down their necks.
“We’ve got big Harry Mallinder who didn’t get on the field, but he had a fantastic game against Leicester in the Wandies game and I’m looking forward to seeing him take the field.
“It’s good for the squad.
“It means that individually we’ve got to keep playing well and we’ve got to perform because there’s someone to take your place.”