Northampton: Mallinder welcomes back international 'cavalry'

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder says the return of several key players from international duty will lift his team after Sunday's LV= Cup final defeat.

The Saints coach said the return of the "cavalry" would help the team recover from the 15-8 defeat by Exeter.

Five Saints players helped England beat Italy 52-11, while George North played in Wales's 51-3 win over Scotland.

"We'll definitely get a lift from the returning players. They're on a massive high," Mallinder said.

We've got some vital games to secure that vital home draw

Jim Mallinder Northampton Saints coach

Luther Burrell, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood and Lee Dickson all featured at the Stadio Olimpico.

Northampton are two points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership and Mallinder said their focus would switch to consolidating their position.

"I think we've got to put [the cup defeat] behind us and move on," he said.

"It's been good for us and we've blooded a lot of good new players, but it's back to the Premiership, that's the big thing for us now.

"That's our big target and we're in a very good position."

Sunday's defeat marked a fourth trophy final defeat in four years for Northampton, after disappointment in the Heineken Cup in 2011, the LV= Cup in 2012 and the Premiership final last year.

Mallinder said it was important his side gave themselves the best chance possible when it comes to this year's Premiership play-off by securing home advantage with a top-two finish.

"We're not a bad side and we have some great players with five or six internationals to come back," he said.

"We've got some vital games to secure that vital home draw."