Jim Mallinder is refusing to use the loss of Saints’ international stars as an excuse for the club’s recent poor performances.
Northampton suffered their second disppointing defeat in succession on Saturday as they fell to a 27-11 loss at home to Premiership play-off rivals Gloucester.
That reverse came seven days after a sorry showing at Sandy Park, which saw Saints beaten 28-19 by Exeter in the LV= Cup.
Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood missed both of those games as they helped England get off to a 100 per cent start in this year’s Six Nations.
And Saints have also lost injury victim Calum Clark to injury, as well as Red Rose full-back Ben Foden, who was left out of Saturday’s clash at the request of the RFU.
But Mallinder, though admitting those men would make a huge difference, preferred to focus on the failings of the players who had been available.
“They are massive players,” said Mallinder. “We’ve got six of our pack missing and then it was disappointing to lose Ben Foden, but we don’t use that as an excuse.
“It’s a squad. We know there’s always going to be periods during the season when your internationals are away or you get injuries and suspensions, but the other lads have got to step up and do well.
“And at this moment in time, we are not playing well enough.”
Though Mallinder was keen not to make too much of the issue after Saturday’s game, Foden’s loss was clearly a big blow to Saints.
But the first-choice No.15, who was ruled out for 10 games earlier this season due to an ankle ligament injury, is expected to be back for this weekend’s game at Worcester.
“He’s not that bad,” said Mallinder. “He’s not that far off. He’s not 100 per cent, but we, of course, would have liked him to have played this week. He’s a key player to us.
“But it’s an EPS period and the England medical staff advised that he didn’t play this week but he’s not far off and I’m hopeful he’ll be back this week.”