Wilkinson granted French leave

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Jonny Wilkinson will be allowed to link up with England for their pre-season training camp in mid-August, despite it coming just days before the start of the new French league campaign.

Wilkinson, who joined Toulon in May on a two-year deal, was yesterday named in England's 32-man elite player squad for the forthcoming season.



There will be a training camp from August 9-14 as part of their preparation for November matches against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.



Wilkinson's presence there will compromise his chances of playing in Toulon's first game of the Top 14 season, which takes place on the weekend of August 14/15/16.



But Mourad Boudjellal, the president of the big-spending southern French club, maintains he will not renege on an agreement he has with the World Cup-winning fly-half and England.



"We have signed a convention with the English federation," Boudjellal told L'Equipe.



"We will not oppose his presence in this training session, nor at any other.



"When we signed him, we knew that it could happen."



Boudjellal has paid big money to make 30-year-old Wilkinson his marquee signing for next season.



And he has not given up hope of having the number 10 available for his side's campaign opener.



"He needs to play, he knows that, and it is possible that he negotiates his presence with us," Boudjellal added.



"But once again, in principle, we will not oppose his departure (for England training)."



Wilkinson has not played competitively since dislocating his knee playing for Newcastle in October but was present at pre-season training with Toulon last week.



Riki Flutey, who will play for Brive next season, was also included in England's training squad but other France-based players James Haskell, Tom Palmer, Tom May, Andy Goode, Steve Thompson and Iain Balshaw were omitted.



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