In-form lock Dom Barrow will miss Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Northampton Saints, the Under-20s World Cup winner having pulled his hamstring in training.
Barrow, who has been one of Newcastle Falcons’ stand-out players in an impressive first season, had been in line to be involved against the second-placed Saints before suffering the injury during his side’s preparations.
And the Yorkshireman is not the only Falcon to be struggling with hamstring problems, flanker Andy Saull having postponed his loan move to Tynedale after suffering tightness in the area.
Director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Dom has pulled his hamstring, and out of the squad we had for this weekend that is the only real concern.
“As for Andy, his hamstring tightened up while he was training with us, which has meant he wasn’t able to go and link up with Tynedale, as planned.
“He needs game-time and, like Joel Hodgson playing for Rotherham last week, those minutes on the field are valuable.
“Playing for Tynedale will stand Andy in good stead, when he is ready.”
Facing a Saints side hot on Saracens’ coat-tails at the top of the division, Richards is unperturbed by the prospect of their England contingent returning after the November internationals.
Hooker Dylan Hartley looks like being the exception after bruising a lung against New Zealand, Richards saying: “You always want a team to put out their strongest side because you want to test yourself against the best, and if you beat them it is happy days because you have bettered them at full strength.
“The only thing I ask of the players is that they are professional in their approach, and that they give it their all. If you do that and still don’t win then you look at where you can make changes, but if we give our best this weekend I will be happy.”
Meanwhile, on the 10-year anniversary of England winning the Rugby World Cup, Richards revealed when asked his memories of the 20-17 triumph: “It was a really strange day because my Leicester side were playing Rotherham later that afternoon with a much-depleted squad, given we had a load of players in the England side.
“We had decided to give the players the morning off so they could watch the game at home, and we had arranged to meet at the stadium after full-time.
“When the World Cup final went into extra-time we began to panic a little, but we hung on and let the lads watch it with their families before jumping in the car and speeding up to Rotherham.
“It was an abysmal match in front of one man and his dog, and it dampened the occasion even though we still won the game. We wanted to go out and celebrate England winning the World Cup, but the league programme meant we couldn’t.
“By the time we got back home it was a bit of a damp squib, but it was brilliant for the country and for the whole of English rugby.
“It put rugby in the spotlight. The World Cup here in 2015 is another chance for us to do that, and from the Newcastle perspective we have got some real quality international rugby matches coming to the region during the tournament.”