London Wasps director of rugby Dai Young insists he will be thrusting his international stars straight back into Aviva Premiership action this weekend as they pursue a place in the top four.
Wasps welcomed back lock Joe Launchbury, second row James Haskell and Italy full-back Andrea Masi this week after a bruising last weekend of the Six Nations.
Their arrivals are timely with Wasps’ charge for the top four hitting the buffers of late – the Londoners have lost their last two matches to London Irish and Worcester Warriors, having won five on the spin before that and they currently sit in sixth place, three points below fourth.
And as a result, Young admits he cannot afford to leave out his returning stars and let them recharge their batteries ahead of this weekend’s home clash with Northampton Saints.
“They may need a week off but they’re not going to get one – we’re at the business end of the season,” he said.
“We expect them to be a little bit tired but that’s part and parcel of professional sport.
“And they want to play a part in the end of season push. We won’t have to force them to play, they’ll want to be a part of it.”
With Saints in fourth place Saturday’s match will go a significant way to deciding who extends their season – a point not lost on Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson who will make his 100th appearance for the club.
He said: “Northampton can beat any of the top sides but have slipped up against some of the lesser sides much in the same way as we have, so they will be as keen as we are to get a result from that fixture, which would see them leapfrog us in terms of the table.
"There are also going to be some huge individual matchups for some guys who are looking ahead to international selection for the EPS squad, wanting to prove themselves against their opposite numbers so there is going to be no love lost when the two sides face each other.
“There’s no doubt that it’s going to be a hard fought encounter; there’s a lot at stake.”
Saints meanwhile, have won their last three matches, including a 40-14 drubbing of London Irish last time out, and appear to have put their mid-season blip behind them.
And prop Alex Waller is calling on his side to reproduce last year’s late surge which saw them book a semi-final place.
“It's very similar to last season when we went to Exeter and knew we had to win,” he said.
“That was obviously a little later in the season, but it's good to know we have done it before in this sort of situation.
"We're coming into a decent run of form, so we want to keep that going but we know it's going to be a tough game.
“It makes a difference having the England guys back, they will have a big impact for us and hopefully help us in the next few weeks which will be vital for the season.
“Wasps have got a good home record so we're expecting a really big battle and will have to prepare well.”
(Adams Park, 3.15pm) LIVE on Sky Sports HD
Referee: David rose (109th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick & Kevin Stewart. TMO: Graham Hughes.