British & Irish Lions doctor James Robson has allayed fears that Jonny Wilkinson has suffered another career-threatening injury.
Fly-half Wilkinson’s problem, another ‘stinger’ to his neck/shoulder area sustained during Saturday’s 48-18 second Test defeat, is the latest in a catalogue of setbacks since World Cup 2003.
The 26-year-old has only made three Test appearances since then, and an initial neck and shoulder problem in early 2004 required surgery before causing an eight-month absence.
But Robson insists that if the Lions had another game next week, then he would be available for selection, which will be music to Wilkinson’s ears and those of his Newcastle boss Rob Andrew.
"If you question all the tour members, it is amazing how many people have had a stinger. It is a bruising to some of the nerves coming out of the neck and going into the shoulder," said Robson.
"It can take anything between a few moments or many months (to recover from)."
Wilkinson, Gavin Henson, Charlie Hodgson, Andrew Sheridan, Ollie Smith and Ben Kay have been ruled out of head coach Sir Clive Woodward’s selection plans for Saturday’s third Test against New Zealand at Eden Park.
And five other players – captain Gareth Thomas, Gethin Jenkins, Neil Back, Shane Horgan and Will Greenwood – are nursing various ailments, with Welsh prop Jenkins the biggest concern because of an ankle problem.
"Jonny has had well-documented problems, and the other day he got two bangs on the same piece of nerve," Robson added.
"The first one cleared very quickly in a few seconds, and the second one was of sufficient concern to actually bring him out of that danger area.
"Since then, he has made fantastic progress, and if this tour had two weeks to run, then I would have no doubt he would be available for selection next week. Jonny will recover very quickly.
"Gavin Henson has a similar problem, but will not recover in the next week or so. He may be several weeks, and his is taking longer to recover, although one would expect him to make a full recovery.
"If Jonny had a lasting problem, we simply wouldn’t be able to get him fit enough to actually play.
"I didn’t want him to have a third bang on the same place, because I know that each time you hit the same place, the damage is going to last longer."
Woodward added: "This is an injury that has put him out for a week, and if we were playing next week then the medical advice coming through is that he would be available. That’s how he plays the game, he just got another knock.
"I spoke to him (on Wednesday). He is disappointed he is not being considered for the weekend. He is close, but he’s not close enough to be considered."