Alan Dickens believes Ben Foden is getting back to "where he wants to be" after helping Northampton to an LV= Cup win over Gloucester.
Released by England after missing the autumn internationals because of an ankle injury, Dickens said Foden needs game time and he played the full 80 minutes in Saturday's 26-7 win to help keep Saints on target for a fourth LV= Cup semi-final in five seasons.
Tries from Luther Burrell and Alex Waller plus two penalties and a conversion each from Ryan Lamb and Stephen Myler saw Northampton ease to victory. Ryan Mills converted his own try for a young Gloucester side, whose hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals were ended by the defeat.
Academy manager Dickens, who has been helping to coach the first team since Paul Grayson's departure in November, said: "Ben was impressive today, and he is getting back to where he wants to be. He needs to play games and get some game time under his belt."
Dickens confirmed Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder is in regular dialogue with England boss Stuart Lancaster.
He said: "Jim speaks to Stuart every week during these kind of periods."
After losing four out of their last five home games at the end of 2012, Dickens said the Northampton players and coaches spoke about the importance of getting their Franklin's Gardens form back on track at the turn of the year. This win ended a three-game try drought at home.
"We talked a couple of weeks ago about winning at home and after a good win against Castres in the Heineken Cup, we have had another good win here," said Dickens.
"The key to it is that we are creating the chances, we don't want to get too frustrated about scoring tries. We need to stay positive and we will finish them off.
"It is good to see some tries. The last home game was a really solid performance against Castres, who are in the top four in the French league, but it is always nice to score tries and we got a couple today. It is positive we created those chances."
There was some disappointment in the fact Mills was allowed to cross for Gloucester's try.
"It was a poor try to concede, but generally we were solid in defence, the attitude and commitment from the lads was really good," Dickens said.
"The scrum was solid and the lineout worked well, we pressurised them on their set-piece, so good pats on the back for Alex Waller, Mike Haywood and Tom Mercey in the front row.
"We've got a lot of young players pushing through from the academy now."
Gloucester forwards coach Carl Hogg, who will no doubt take a much stronger squad to Franklin's Gardens in two weeks for the Aviva Premiership clash, said: "We didn't have a lot of possession, but we defended with great energy and spirit. It is a good learning curve for these young players.
"It is disappointing with the lack of ball we had, so we were on the back foot for most of the day, but I must pay credit to the players for the spirit they showed.
"We didn't get enough set-piece ball to function off to have a real crack, but the endeavour in defence was outstanding. When you come to Franklin's Gardens you have to be solid in the scrum and in the lineout. Our set-piece didn't function so we allowed them to put us under pressure."
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