Wilkinson waits in the wings

British & Irish Lions fly-half Jonny Wilkinson could return to action for Newcastle Falcons against Harlequins on Sunday. [more]

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British & Irish Lions fly-half Jonny Wilkinson could return to action for Newcastle Falcons against Harlequins on Sunday.

Wilkinson, plagued by a series of injuries since the World Cup, has not played for two months after damaging knee ligaments in Newcastle’s European Cup tie against Perpignan.

Early estimates suggested Wilkinson might have been fit to play for England against Italy in the Six Nations at Twickenham.

Instead, he is set to take his place on the visitors’ bench over the road at the Stoop after Newcastle’s director of rugby Rob Andrew named him among 11 possible replacements.

With Newcastle enjoying only two games before they take on Stade Francais in the European Cup quarter-final, Wilkinson’s inclusion in the list suggests he will be involved.

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And just the whiff that Wilkinson could feature has helped ensure the match is a sell-out.

Should he come through without any negative reaction, Wilkinson might be in line for a first Test appearance since the World Cup final when England take on Scotland in their final Six Nations clash next weekend.

If so, it will provide the perfect opportunity for Wilkinson to prove his international form ahead of this summer’s tour to New Zealand.

But England coach Andy Robinson refused to be drawn on the possibility of the fly-half being involved against Scotland next Saturday.

"Let Jonny enjoy tomorrow," he said.

"It has been very frustrating for him and Newcastle, but everything has been very professional with the way it has been handled."

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