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English Premiership 2008/09 / News
English Premiership
Wilkinson facing lengthy lay-off
Scrum.com
October 1, 2008
Jonny Wilkinson of Newcastle is helped off the pitch after being injured, Gloucester v Newcastle, Guiness Premiership, Kingsholm, September 30, 2008
Wilkinson's career has been blighted by a succession of injuries © Getty Images
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Jonny Wilkinson is battling to play again before Christmas after being cut down by another cruel injury blow.

The Newcastle fly-half looks certain to miss England's entire autumn Test programme, which features Twickenham clashes with the Pacific Islanders, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Wilkinson's place in the 32-man elite England squad is set to be filled by Danny Cipriani.

Neither Newcastle nor the Rugby Football Union are speculating on how long Wilkinson will be sidelined after he dislocated his left knee during Falcons' Guinness Premiership defeat against Gloucester last night. But it is understood a three-month absence is probable as he braces himself for detailed specialist advice following a scan today.

Newcastle rugby director Steve Bates said: "It is obviously disappointing for Jonny to receive an injury just when he was back playing fantastic rugby. But he has enormous strength of character, and I am sure he will come back stronger despite this blow."

In a statement, the RFU added: "The England coaching and medical teams are in close contact with Newcastle Falcons regarding Jonny Wilkinson. A further comment will be made after they receive the results of the specialist's review of his injured left knee."

It was initially feared that Wilkinson had suffered knee ligament damage when he limped off after being caught in a ruck during the game at Kingsholm. Wilkinson was featuring in just his fourth match after undergoing summer shoulder surgery that sidelined him for England's two-Test New Zealand tour.

He has been plagued by injury since landing the winning drop-goal in the 2003 World Cup final against Australia. He needed treatment on a shoulder injury after that match and has since picked up knee, bicep and groin injuries. He has also required surgery to cure kidney and appendix problems.

While Wilkinson ponders another lay-off, England manager Martin Johnson can only keep his fingers crossed that 20-year-old Wasps ace Cipriani enjoys an injury-free run. Cipriani finished last season's Six Nations Championship as the player in possession of England's No.10 shirt.

He produced a commanding performance, kicking 18 points during a comprehensive victory over Ireland, but then an horrific ankle injury suffered while on Premiership play-off duty for his club against Bath ended Cipriani's campaign. It was initially thought he would be out for six months, therefore being unavailable to contest an autumn Test place.

But Cipriani recovered six weeks ahead of schedule and was due to begin his comeback - against Bath - in the Premiership. Johnson can draft replacements into the elite squad at any time in the event of injuries. Cipriani was originally named in the second-tier England Saxons squad while he continued his recovery throughout the summer, but with Wilkinson likely to be missing next month, promotion looks inevitable.

Johnson has other fly-half options within the main England group, including Gloucester's Olly Barkley, Leicester No.10 Toby Flood and London Irish's Shane Geraghty, but no-one fits the bill quite like Cipriani.

JONNY WILKINSON INJURY FILE

2002: May - Suffers ankle ligament damage in Newcastle's defeat by Gloucester, ruling him out for the rest of the season.

2003: December 13 - Newcastle confirm Wilkinson has fractured a facet in his shoulder - known as a 'stinger'. Falcons predict an absence of two to three weeks.

December 28 - Suffers a recurrence of his shoulder injury and has to come off during Newcastle's win over Northampton.

2004: February - Ruled out of Six Nations after shoulder operation.

October - Ruled out for up to six weeks with a haematoma in the upper right arm and has to stand down as England captain for autumn Tests.

2005: January - Suffers knee ligament damage in Newcastle's Heineken Cup defeat in Perpignan.

March - Suffers medial ligament damage on Newcastle comeback against Harlequins.

July - Suffers shoulder injury in British and Irish Lions' second Test defeat in New Zealand and misses third match.

September - Ruled out of early season action after undergoing an appendix operation.

November - Has a major operation for related groin problems.

2006: January - Suffers a torn adductor muscle.

September - Forced off with a knee ligament injury during Newcastle's home game against Worcester, effectively ending his hopes of playing in the autumn Tests.

November - Makes comeback for Newcastle against Bristol but suffers kidney damage and requires one month's rest.

2007: September - Suffers fresh injury blow as a twisted ankle in training rules him out of England World Cup opener against USA.

2008: May - Undergoes shoulder surgery which keeps him out of England's summer tour of New Zealand.

October 1 - Diagnosed with dislocated knee injury suffered during Newcastle's Guinness Premiership defeat at Gloucester.

JONNY WILKINSON FACTFILE

1979: Born Frimley, Surrey, May 25.

1997: Plays for England Under-16s and scores 38 points for England Under-18s as they achieve junior Grand Slam. Leaves school, tours Australia with England Schools and joins Newcastle in the summer.

Plays for England Under-21s as they beat New Zealand 42-13, France 16-15 - scoring 11 points - and Wales 46-7.

1998: Named on replacements' bench for Five Nations match against Scotland at Murrayfield at age of 18 years and 301 days.

1999: February - Makes first start for England at age of 19 in Five Nations against Scotland and kicks four priceless goals as England win Calcutta Cup 24-21.

October - Scores 32 points for England in their 67-7 demolition of Italy.

2000: February - Scores all 15 points as England beat France in crucial Six Nations Championship match.

June - Kicks all 27 points as England beat South Africa 27-22 in second Test at Bloemfontein.

2001: February - Claims Six Nations individual tournament record with 35 points in England's 80-23 thrashing of Italy.

November - Scores all 21 points as England beat Australia at Twickenham.

Follows that up with another 21-point haul in home win over South Africa.

2002: March - Scores a remarkable 30 points in Six Nations victory over Wales at Twickenham.

May - Suffers ankle ligament damage in Newcastle's defeat by Gloucester, ruling him out for the rest of the season.

November - Helps England cement their place as the top side in world rugby with 21 points as England beat New Zealand 31-28. A week later scores 22 points in 32-31 win over Australia and notches another eight points as England thrash South Africa 53-3, although a shoulder injury forces him to miss the second half.

Named Zurich International Player of the Year for 2002.

December - Awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours List.

2003: February/March - Scores 77 points as England clinch Six Nations Grand Slam, finishing as the competition's top scorer.

June - Kicks all 15 points as England beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time and 10 more as England beat Australia to complete an historic southern hemisphere double.

October - England all but secure top spot in their World Cup group with 25-6 win over South Africa. Wilkinson kicks 20 of England's points.

November - Puts France to the sword and secures World Cup final berth by kicking all England's points in 24-7 victory.

November 22 - Is England's inevitable hero in the final, securing a dramatic 20-17 victory over Australia with a drop-goal deep into extra-time. Also contributed four penalties, the scoring pass to England's try-scorer Jason Robinson, accurate kicking out of hand, and some crunching tackles.

December 13 - Newcastle Falcons confirm Wilkinson has fractured a facet in his shoulder and may have suffered the injury ``several weeks ago''. Falcons predicted he would be out for two to three weeks.

December 14 - Wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

December 28 - Suffers a recurrence of his shoulder injury and has to come off during Newcastle's win over Northampton.

December 31 - He receives an OBE in the 2004 New Year Honours list, and it is reported he is expected to return ``within weeks'' after it is revealed there is no serious damage to his shoulder.

2004: February - Ruled out of Six Nations after shoulder operation.

May - Ruled out of England's three-Test tour to New Zealand and Australia.

August - Makes his comeback after eight months out in Newcastle's pre-season friendly against Connacht in Galway.

September - Kicks 15 points on his return to the Premiership as Newcastle beat Worcester 30-9.

October 4 - Confirmed as Lawrence Dallaglio's successor as England captain for the three November Test matches.

October 21 - Ruled out for up to six weeks with a haematoma in the upper right arm, and has to stand down from the autumn Tests.

December 12 - Makes comeback for Newcastle in Heineken Cup clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield, kicking late conversion.

2005: January - Converts his own injury-time try as Newcastle beat Sale 30-29 in Premiership.

January 8 - Suffers knee ligament damage in Newcastle's Heineken Cup defeat in Perpignan.

March - Suffers medial ligament damage on Newcastle comeback against Harlequins.

May - Late addition to the Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand.

June - Lions lose first Test 21-3 with Wilkinson's solitary penalty their only score.

July - Suffers shoulder injury in second Test defeat and misses third match.

September - Ruled out of early season action after undergoing an appendix operation.

November - Has a major operation for related groin problems.

2006: January - Suffers a torn adductor muscle.

April - Finishes the season with Newcastle, playing in Premiership games against Sale, Worcester and Leeds, plus Falcons' European Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to London Irish.

August - Named in 41-man England elite player squad for the new international season.

September - Forced off with a knee ligament injury during Newcastle's home game against Worcester, effectively ending his hopes of playing in the autumn Tests.

November - Makes comeback for Newcastle against Bristol but suffers kidney damage and requires one month's rest.

2007: January - Makes another Newcastle comeback and wins place in England side for Six Nations opener against Scotland.

February 3 - Makes a dream international comeback, scoring a Calcutta Cup record 27 points - including a full house of try, penalty, conversion and drop goal - as England romp to 42-20 victory over Scotland.

February 10 - Becomes the leading points scorer in Five and Six Nations history with a third-minute penalty against Italy at Twickenham.

June - Captains England in second Test of disastrous summer tour of South Africa.

September 4 - Suffers fresh injury blow as a twisted ankle in training rules him out of England World Cup opener against USA.

September 22 - After missing 36-0 defeat by South Africa, Wilkinson returns to kick 24 points in 44-22 win over Samoa.

September 28 - Kicks 16 points in 36-20 win over Tonga that clinches a World Cup quarter-final spot.

October 6 - Kicks all of England's points as they beat Australia 12-10 in the last eight. The match sees Wilkinson overtake Gavin Hastings as the World Cup's all-time leading points-scorer.

October 13 - Kicks nine points as England beat France 14-9 to reach second successive World Cup final.

October 20 - Kicks all of England's points as they are beaten 15-6 by South Africa in World Cup final.

2008: February 2 - Kicks 14 points in England's 26-19 defeat by Wales in their Six Nations opener, England's first Twickenham loss to Wales in 20 years.

February 10 - Becomes first player to pass 1,000 points for England in 23-19 victory over Italy.

February 23 - Overtakes Hugo Porta's world record with 29th drop goal in Tests as England win 24-13 in France, their first Six Nations victory at the Stade de France for eight years.

March 8 - Overtakes Neil Jenkins as Test rugby's leading points-scorer in 15-9 defeat by Scotland.

March 11 - Dropped by England for final Six Nations match against Ireland.

April 21 - Ruled out of England's summer tour to New Zealand after it is confirmed he will undergo shoulder surgery at the end of the season.

October 1 - Diagnosed with dislocated knee injury suffered during Newcastle's Guinness Premiership defeat at Gloucester.

© PA Sport
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