Six Nations
Mallinder backs Dickson start for England
ESPNscrum Staff
February 20, 2012
Northampton boss Jim Mallinder in relaxed mood, Northampton Saints v Scarlets, Heineken Cup, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, November 18, 2011
Jim Mallinder is hoping to see Lee Dickson start © Getty Images

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder expects scrum-half Lee Dickson replace the under-fire Ben Youngs for England's Six Nations clash against Wales.

Dickson has made an impact in his two appearances in Stuart Lancaster's side as a replacement in the victories over Scotland and Italy. Mallinder, who signed Dickson from Newcastle in 2008, believes the 26-year-old should now be handed a starting berth next Saturday.

"I definitely think Lee deserves it from what he has done with us this season and I guess what he has done with England in the short time that he has had on the field," said Mallinder. "He upped the tempo last week against Italy, or helped towards that, and I would like to see him having a chance to start."

"Lee is a cheeky chappy but he is quite mature. He has a sensible head on his shoulders, he is one of our leaders, a senior player and he has played like that every week for us, really.

"He understands the game. He has a really good understanding. He has worked hard on parts of his game - his kicking has improved, his ability to get the ball away is outstanding and I just think a nine like Dickson will help the England cause.

"He has an energy in both attack and defence and he communicates so well with the rest of the team. I think they respect that and it all helps."

Mallinder, though, says flanker Tom Wood is unlikely to return to action for another "two to three weeks", meaning a recall to the England squad before their final Six Nations match on March 17 is unlikely.

"Tom has the boot off his foot and has started training and I think it could still be another two to three weeks at least," Mallinder added. "He is slowly getting back in. I think if he comes back too soon there is a danger again that the foot will go again and we will be back to square one and maybe surgery. The physios have been cautious and the very best will be two to three weeks.

"It is unlikely he will play in the Six Nations. If he does get back it will be the real later stages."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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