Wasps have admitted they have targeted England scrum-half Matt Dawson as a possible replacement for Rob Howley should the former Wales skipper be forced to leave the Causeway Stadium.
Howley, who has a year left on his contract with the English champions, has suffered from a wrist injury for much of the season and will undergo surgery over the summer.
His return is scheduled for the early stages of next season's English Premiership campaign but any complications would delay his comeback and deny Wasps a world-class performer in a key position.
Dawson, who helped England lift the World Cup in Australia last year, wants to join a club closer to London and would be a quality alternative to Howley.
Wasps director of rugby Warren Gatland said: "We held talks with Matt and his agent. However, nothing has been signed or finalised.
"Rob has a year left on his contract and remains our first-choice scrum-half and it is hoped that he will see out his contract and fulfil his dream of playing for the British Lions at the end of next season.
"However, Rob has been carrying a wrist injury for some time now and will require an operation in the summer to correct it, which means he could be out until October.
"If he is unable to see out his contract with us, then clearly we will be in the market for a replacement and Dawson is one of a number of scrum-halves on offer."
Dawson has spent all 13 years of his domestic career at Franklin's Gardens and his departure would come as a hefty blow to Northampton fans who hold one of the club's all-time greats in high regard.
But in New Zealander Mark Robinson they have a top-drawer replacement and a statement issued by Northampton has revealed that Dawson's desire to continue his career elsewhere had not caused any friction
The statement read: "The club has had amicable conversations with Matt Dawson regarding his future here at Franklin's Gardens.
"We know Matt has had conversations with other clubs in the London area where he now lives with his girlfriend. But as yet nothing has been finalised and a new deal has not been signed."
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