Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Wait on Wilkinson Fitness Test

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Wait on Wilkinson Fitness Test

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alan Hedley

Jonny Wilkinson could make yet another comeback against Stade Francais in Newcastle's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Stade Francais in Paris tomorrow.

But Newcastle manager Rob Andrew rates Wilkinson's prospects, and those of Wales back row Colin Charvis (foot), as no more than 50-50, with both facing late fitness tests tomorrow.

Andrew has named both among 11 possible Falcons replacements, but he conceded the game has probably come a week too early for his pair of international stars to make the starting line-up. Prop Ian Peel, whose chances are considerably less than 50-50 will also have a late fitness test on his back problem.

With all due respect to Wilkinson ( on the mend from a second medial knee ligament injury ( the absence of Peel and Argentinian Galo Alvarez Quinones, also with a back injury, is of more importance to the Falcons, who are really stretched in the front row department.

Both James Isaacson and Micky Ward, who will step in at prop, have only just recovered from injury to face a Stade Francais pack reckoned to be one of the best in Europe.

"Jonny has no more than a 50-50 chance of playing," said Andrew.

"And the same goes for Colin Charvis. Their chances are pretty slim to be honest and we will be taking no risks with either of them.

"If they are not 100pc then they won't play, but we will decide that on Saturday morning.

"Jonny has trained this week, but he has not taken a full part in everything.

"It's probably a week too early for both him and Colin."

Wilkinson returned from a knee ligament problem in Newcastle's Zurich Premiership defeat against Harlequins almost three weeks ago, but the England number 10 lasted just 34 minutes before hurting his left knee again after tackling Quins prop Ceri Jones. …

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