Northampton Saints' Jim Mallinder has back-row worries

Tom Wood
Wood saw red after 13 minutes against Leicester Tigers

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder is concerned his back row options could become severely limited through suspensions over discipline.

Tom Wood was red carded at Leicester on Saturday for his part in a mass brawl that also involved Courtney Lawes.

In addition Phil Dowson already faces an RFU disciplinary panel after a dangerous tackle against Saracens.

"It's a massive worry. We've got Europe coming up and we're already short," Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton.

"You never want to lose your best players. We'll just see what happens."

Should any of the three Saints face significant suspension it could damage their Heineken Cup prospects with crucial home and away games against Castres in the next fortnight.

If all three are suspended it would make life extremely hard for Mallinder as two of his other frontline back-row forwards, Roger Wilson and Calum Clark, are also out.

Number eight Wilson picked up an elbow injury in the full-blooded match at Welford Road, which ended defeat by Tigers.

Flanker Clark is recovering from an operation for a fractured thumb and faces several more weeks on the sidelines.

Northampton's only other options at back row are Ben Nutley, who has impressed in 11 appearances for the Saints, and Samu Manoa, who is more recognised as a second-row.

Saints also have 19-year-old flanker Jamie Warr on their books but the teenager is yet to play a senior game for the East Midlands club.

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