England suffer Wilkinson blow
October 29, 2010
Jonny Wilkinson will be out of the game for at least four weeks © Getty Images
Matt Banahan Paul Doran Jones Toby Flood Riki Flutey Lewis Moody Tim Payne Simon Shaw Jonny Wilkinson
Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has been ruled out of England's autumn international campaign after succumbing to a shoulder injury.
The Toulon fly-half has been formally replaced in Martin Johnson's 32-man elite squad by Sale's Charlie Hodgson. Wilkinson does not require surgery but the Rugby Football Union confirmed he will be out of action for around four weeks.
Wilkinson saw a specialist on Tuesday after reporting to England's training camp with a shoulder problem sustained in Toulon's defeat to Stade Francais on Saturday night. England always knew he was doubtful for the New Zealand game on November 6 but it became apparent over the last 48 hours that Wilkinson would be sidelined for the whole Investec series.
Johnson said: "Jonny was being assessed day by day and we knew we would have a better idea of where he was in terms of the injury by the end of this week. It's clear that Jonny will need a period of rehab of around four weeks and this will be carried out in conjunction with Toulon."
Wilkinson lost his place as England's starting fly-half at the end of last year's Six Nations but he remained a key figure in Johnson's squad. Toby Flood is now certain to start against the All Blacks with Hodgson set to be named in a Test squad for the first time since the 2008 summer tour of New Zealand.
England's team to face to the All Blacks is beginning to take shape. Johnson's decision to release Tim Payne and Paul Doran-Jones back to their clubs this weekend points to Andrew Sheridan and Dan Cole as the starting props, with David Wilson providing back-up from the bench now he has beaten a back problem.
With Riki Flutey still sidelined by a calf injury, Mike Tindall and Shontayne Hape are set to continue their midfield partnership, though Matt Banahan has a chance to stake his claim for a place on the bench when he plays at outside centre for Bath at Harlequins.
Banahan will line up alongside England captain Lewis Moody, who persuaded Johnson to let him play at The Stoop on Sunday before tackling the All Blacks. Moody has not played since suffering an eye injury against Gloucester on October 1 that left him blind for 24 hours and fearing for his sight.
Payne starts for Wasps at Leeds alongside flanker Joe Worsley, centre Dominic Waldouck and lock Dan Ward-Smith who were all released by England earlier in the week.
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