LUKE Walsh’s ‘grumbling’ ankle is nothing compared to the grumbling that has gone on among the fans in recent years about Saints’ scrum half plight.

Of course, you cannot legislate for losing your key signing with such a serious injury for a long period. That is just pure bad luck.

But without doubt the biggest issue that gets raised with me by supporters is the need to shift a back rower there to hold fort.

If it it had just been for the past year to cover Walsh’s injury then I don’t believe it would have been an issue.

But this situation has gone on ever since Nathan Brown decided Jonny Lomax was a one and not a seven, compounded by Lance Hohaia never really being turned into the half the club hoped he could be when they first signed him.

Jon Wilkin first put his hand up for it quite a few years ago when his steady hand on the tiller and left foot kicking game were useful tools as a temporary stopgap.

If Wilkin was thinking selfishly, from a pure personal performance point of view, I bet there are times when he wishes he had made a complete hash of it first time around so that the option would have been struck off as a last resort.

Saints have been unfortunate this term in that other players who could play in the halves – Lomax, Hohaia and Paul Wellens – are ruled out, which has intensified the lobby to promote players from the academy.

Saints over the past few years have never been shy to push their kids through into the first team – so I reckon it is fair to say that if the coaching staff don’t believe there are under 19s halves quite ready yet to step into the breach yet then it will be for a good reason.

I hear both arguments – particularly the one that says you will only know how they will cope by playing them.

That is countered by a view that how damaging would it be to push a player into the top flight prematurely – into a role where they have to call the shots from the middle, have the big voice to boss the forwards around and put them into the holes.

Oh yes, and defensively they would have to stand up too.

Gone are the days when a young half could be shielded – any kid coming in would be the number one spot player and get all the traffic.

So with that in mind, I can understand why coaches go for the safe and steady option when it is available, rather than take a chance.

It is not a hard and fast rule. But not every player can come in and do what Alex Murphy did as a 16-year-old!