Wilkinson expected to be fit for England tour

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The Independent Online

England will assess Jonny Wilkinson this weekend but expect him to be fit for their tour to Australia and New Zealand after a scan revealed he did not suffer a broken rib during Toulon's Amlin Challenge Cup final defeat against Cardiff Blues on Sunday.

The fly-half went down after attempting a kick at goal and the scan, carried out by his club, has revealed bruising at the bottom of his ribcage, with Toulon insisting the 2003 World Cup winner will not be able to take part in contact work for two weeks but that he should be available for England's first Test against the Wallabies.



A statement on the Toulon website read: "Jonny Wilkinson will have to observe at least two weeks without contact and should be able to play in England's first Test against Australia on June 12 in Perth."



Wilkinson will now join up with the England squad on Saturday and the injury will then be reviewed by the England medical team.



A statement from the RFU read: "Jonny Wilkinson has been reviewed by his club medical team and an x-ray has shown there is no break to his rib but there is soft tissue damage.



"Jonny Wilkinson will meet up with the England squad on Saturday as scheduled after receiving further treatment from his club. He will then be assessed and reviewed by the England medical team before agreeing a course of treatment and rehabilitation.



"It is expected that Wilkinson will travel with the Senior England EPS to Australia on Monday."



Wilkinson has enjoyed an excellent first season in France since moving from Newcastle last summer, also helping Toulon to reach the semi-finals of the domestic Top 14, and his departure proved to be the turning point in Sunday's final as the Blues fought back from 13-6 down to win 28-21.



But he lost his place at Test level to Leicester's Toby Flood for England's final game of the Six Nations against France in Paris after coming in for criticism for his displays earlier in the tournament and during a disappointing autumn campaign.



If England adhere to Toulon's recommendation regarding contact work, Wilkinson will miss the opening tour fixture against the Australian Barbarians on June 8.



And while the 31-year-old looks set to be available for that first Test with Australia, a lack of contact work in the build-up to that Subiaco Oval clash may put paid to his hopes of recapturing the number 10 jersey from Flood.



Once he has recovered, Wilkinson will also face competition from Sale's Charlie Hodgson - who was today handed a first appearance in two years as he was named in the starting line-up to face the Barbarians on Sunday - and Northampton's Shane Geraghty.



There was understandable concern when Wilkinson, whose career has been ravaged by injury since his drop goal secured that famous triumph in Sydney over six-and-a-half years ago, sank to his haunches at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday.



But he did try to play down any worries over his condition in the immediate aftermath of the game.



"I'm not sure if it's a cracked rib," he had said.



"It feels like a bit of a back strain and I will find out this week. At the moment it does feel a bit uncomfortable but I am not in a position where I am feeling dread in any way."



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