Jim Mallinder hoping Ben Foden stays fit after starring role in Northampton win
Jim Mallinder is hoping he can keep Ben Foden fit this season after the England full-back ran in two tries to help Northampton secure a five-try, 42-16 win over Newcastle at stadium:mk.
The 30-year-old has been beset by injury in the last few seasons. His RBS 6 Nations and World Cup chances were dashed by a knee problem that required surgery and saw him miss the last six months of last term.
And in 2012 he had a bad ankle injury and another knee injury in 2014, so Mallinder is hoping the player can stay away from the medical room.
Northampton director of rugby Mallinder said: "We know Ben Foden is a good player. He needs games to get back to full fitness and he just getting a little bit of a run of games again.
"He was playing well when he got injured last season. Fingers crossed we can keep him fit. He had an excellent game even in the first half when we were under the cosh - he was doing well, catching his own kicks, he looked sharp."
Saints looked as slow and uninspired in the first half as they did in their shock defeat at Worcester.
The Falcons were well in the game at 16-9 at the break, but Northampton - with England duo Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood back in the pack - added two tries while Todd Clever was in the sin-bin as they dominated the second half.
Mallinder said: "We were really disappointed with last week, but we regrouped this week and managed to get a bonus-point win. We are back on track but now we need to back this win up. We have loads to work on; we know we weren't perfect at all.
"We were really pleased to get the England boys back - they made a big difference. They are quality players. Sometimes it is not easy fitting straight back into the system, but, particularly in the second half, we saw the team gelling and playing as we want them to.
"Courtney has not played many games recently, but he looked fit out there and improved as the game went on."
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards was upset at his side's lack of discipline as they conceded a host of penalties against Northampton's lineout drive that eventually saw Clever yellow-carded.
Richards said: "They scored twice during the sin-bin period. We shouldn't be conceding penalties like that and we shouldn't be conceding tries like that.
"But it is symptomatic of where we are at the moment. Some players don't react to how the referee is refereeing. The referee is always going to be a bit one-eyed down here.
"You have to be on your mettle and not give the referee anything. You can't blame the referee at all. As an away side you know what you are up against and so you have to be whiter than white - we didn't get the rub of the green."