England players are all back training with the club, as are a number of first team players who have enjoyed some time off over the past fortnight.
But having seen so many step up impressively, Mallinder has welcomed the selection dilemma he now faces as Aviva Premiership Rugby returns to the Gardens.
“With so many players called up for international duty, the autumn period is always an important part of the season,” the Saints director of rugby commented. “With that in mind I’ve been pleased with how many players have come in and performed well over the past four weeks, both in the Aviva Premiership and LV= Cup.”
“We’ve had eight debutants in all and the squad have built a good amount of momentum with four wins on top of the Ospreys victory back in October. We’ve played well on the whole and several players have staked a claim for continued inclusion.
“It makes our selections as coaches that bit more difficult. The England boys produced some outstanding performances over the three Tests at Twickenham but they are by no means certain to go straight back into the starting XV this weekend.”
Mallinder is also cautious of the threat posed by a Newcastle side looking to consolidate their start to life back in the Premiership, particularly with as many as eight Saints regulars unavailable for selection.
“The squad have done well recently but we’re still missing a number of players with their respective countries and to injury and it is vital we respect the challenge posed by Newcastle,” Mallinder added.
“Under Dean Richards they have shown that they are a match for anyone in the Premiership on their day and the 23 players selected for Saturday’s game will have to be right on their game if we want to keep our run going and remain unbeaten at home.”
Home support has also played a big part in the Saints’ run at the Gardens this term, four of their five wins coming by way of a bonus point with 23 tries scored in the process. Be part of a packed house and cheer them home to win number six by booking your tickets online HERE and [email protected] to save on fees!