Wilkinson, who represented the Lions in both 2001 and 2005, has suffered numerous injuries since kicking the winning drop goal for England in Sydney five years ago.
Wilkinson, Newcastle, England, and possibly the Lions, will be hoping that the latest setback, a shoulder injury which required surgery over the summer, is now behind the 29-year-old.
"Jonny is in great shape and raring to go," said Bates.
"I thought Rory Clegg did very well for an 18-year-old guy making his Guinness Premiership debut last weekend against Sale, but with a world class talent like Jonny in the side we will be a much more potent attacking force.
"The attention that the opposition have to give him often presents opportunities elsewhere on the field for other players. He knows what we as coaches are trying to achieve, and what he also brings is a great emphasis on precision in attack.
"He brings a huge amount of problems for defenders to deal with, firstly because he is a prolific goal kicker and teams are wary of conceding penalties in their own half, which in turn could well have implications on other areas of the game."