Jim Mallinder says he is really disappointed that Calum Clark will be forced to miss the Six Nations through injury.
But the Saints boss has backed his player to come back stronger from the shoulder damage that looks set to sideline him for the entire Six Nations.
Clark sustained the injury in the first half of Northampton’s 27-20 Heineken Cup defeat at Glasgow last weekend and had surgery on the problem on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old had been named in England boss Stuart Lancaster’s 32-man squad for the upcoming Six Nations.
But he now looks let to play no part, instead engaging in a long period of rehabilitation at Franklin’s Gardens.
“He will be out for a number of weeks and I don’t think he will be back within the Six Nations time frame,” said Mallinder.
“It’s a big blow whenever you lose players and I’m really disappointed for Calum with the Six Nations coming up.
“It’s well documented in terms of him missing games previously (through a 32-week suspension), he came back from that strongly.”
Mallinder feels Clark, who was called into the England squad as a second row forward, would have got some game time for Lancaster’s side.
But he believes the former Leeds Carnegie youngster will cope with the spell on the sidelines well.
“He got called up into the England 32 and he had a good chance of pushing on,” said Mallinder.
“I don’t think he’d have been guaranteed of being in the first 15 but there’s a good chance he would have got in at some stage.
“We’re very disappointed for him and we’re disappointed, but as he knows and says – that’s life, that’s rugby.
“He’s going to be out for a period, he’ll cope with it well.
Saints may not have Clark available for the foreseeable future, but they have been boosted by the return to fitness of three other back row forwards.
Mallinder said: “Calum’s out but we’ve got players coming back to fitness.
“It’s very encouraging to see Christian Day, James Craig, Sam Dickinson, three players in that position of the back five, coming back and being available for us.”