Latest limping Lion Henson causes Woodward concern

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The Independent Online

The Lions coach, Sir Clive Woodward, has no sooner had one lot of good news about one limping Lion than he learns about another. The latest worry is the Wales centre Gavin Henson, who has been carrying a groin injury since the autumn internationals.

"With the Lions so close it is a worry, but I am hoping everything will come good," Woodward said. Henson missed Neath-Swansea Ospreys' Celtic Cup quarter-final victory over Ulster at the weekend and will not play in the semi-final against Llanelli.

Woodward revealed yesterday that he has held talks with the Newcastle and England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson about the state of his fitness and his chances of making the forthcoming Lions tour of New Zealand. Wilkinson, who landed half a dozen penalties in Newcastle's final Premiership match against London Irish at the weekend, came through all 80 minutes of the game with no adverse reaction from his injured knee and the England captain is now optimistic of being added to the party.

Wilkinson is not the only player who is under observation. Bath centre Mike Tindall (foot) and Gloucester prop Phil Vickery (broken arm) are also keen to prove their fitness.

While Wilkinson's chances look bright, Tindall's look bleak. He had hoped to be on the Bath bench last Saturday but it was considered that he was still weeks away from recovering from a foot injury.

John Connolly, the Bath head coach, meanwhile, is to remain at The Recreation ground until Bath have found a suitable replacement. Connolly explained that there would be a transitional period, once his replacement is appointed, of probably a month or so, before the Australian leaves in the new season. Bath have signed hooker Peter Dixon from South African Super 12 side Stormers as a replacement for the retiring Jonathan Humphreys.

Worcester's hopes of signing South African Breyton Paulse have been dashed as the Stormers wing has signed for the French club Clermont Auvergne.