Wilkinson ahead of schedule

British & Irish Lion Jonny Wilkinson could make his comeback ahead of schedule in Newcastle's Powergen Cup clash against Sale Sharks on Sunday. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

British & Irish Lion Jonny Wilkinson could make his comeback ahead of schedule in Newcastle’s Powergen Cup clash against Sale Sharks on Sunday.

The fly-half, who has not played rugby for England since November 23 following numerous injury setbacks, underwent an appendix operation last month.

The problem initially surfaced during Newcastle’s pre-season tour to Japan, and Wilkinson underwent surgery on returning home, before facing a recovery period of between four and six weeks.

England head coach Andy Robinson did not name the World Cup winner in his 30-man squad for the November Tests against Australia, New Zealand and Samoa but a run of games in Falcons colours could conceivably see him available to make an international return.

Wilkinson is among the Newcastle replacements this weekend, and Falcons rugby director Rob Andrew expects him to play some part in the Kingston Park action.

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"At the time he went in for the operation, we thought it would be four weeks out, and by Sunday it will be just under that four-week mark," said Andrew.

"It was a keyhole operation, and he is a very fast healer as well as being incredibly fit, so he has trained with us all week and there is no question he’s ready.

"I am not making any promises about how long he will play, but he will get on at some stage.

"He just needs a clear run of three or so months, playing something near 80 minutes a week, before people can start making judgements on him.

"I think after the injuries he’s had, then he is due a good run of health."

Wilkinson’s last England appearance came in the 2003 World Cup final, and although he toured New Zealand with the Lions earlier this year, starting in the first and second Tests, injury ended his trip a week early.

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