'Frustrated' Wilkinson eager to be back playing again

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The Independent Online

Jonny Wilkinson yesterday spoke of his "deep frustration" after being forced to delay his return to rugby.

The 24-year-old England fly-half was a reluctant spectator yesterday as Newcastle booked a second round European Parker Pen Challenge Cup tie against Montferrand next month with a 66-27 rout of the Spanish side Valladolid (137-37 on aggregate).

Wilkinson, given three weeks' rest following his exploits in Sydney, was due to play his first Falcons match of the season before catching a flight to London for the BBC Sports Personality Awards. But he was forced to postpone his comeback when X-rays revealed a small fracture in his shoulder, which is expected to keep him out until after Christmas.

However, he was still the centre of attention at Kingston Park, where he was mobbed by the two dozen visiting Spanish fans at a pre-match reception.

"I want to be back doing my bit because not being able to do that frustrates me deeply," he said. "It sort of cheers me up being amongst the world's happiest people here."

Wilkinson began to feel discomfort during a weight training session earlier this week and CT scans on Saturday revealed a small fracture.

But he allayed fears that the injury would threaten his involvement in the Six Nations' Championship. "My neck is the main problem," he said. "It's an old injury and it's been healing for quite a few weeks anyway so it could be that I haven't got that many weeks to go, maybe two or three. I'm just keen to make sure it gets back strong and that I don't have this problem again. I don't think I will have. I'm desperate to get back out there and do my bit for the team because they've certainly been doing that.

"I don't know too much about what's going on tonight [at the BBC awards] or what's going to follow but I do know that I'm going to be here for training all next week. I'm keen to keep my normal life going."