Jonny’s nightmare continues

It has been confirmed that England’s World Cup-winning flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson will be sidelined for at least a month, and could even miss the Test against the All Blacks.

The 27-year-old suffered ligament damage to his right knee in Newcastle’s narrow 20-19 win over Worcester on Saturday. The most disappointing thing about this injury is that it was sustained to his good knee. A range of tests and scans have been conducted to assess the period of layoff.

“The scans have confirmed what we initially thought on the night, and at the moment we’re probably looking at Jonny being out for somewhere between four and eight weeks,” director of rugby John Fletcher told the Falcons website.

This could rule out the possibility of a comeback to the international game against New Zealand on 5 November. He has not played for England since dropping the decisive goal against hosts Australia in the World Cup final of 2003.

“The injury is exactly the same as the old knee injury except it’s the right knee this time,” Wilkinson said in his column in The Times on Monday. “It’s a grade-two partial medial ligament tear.

“It took me nine weeks to come back from the last one.

“I know some people will start thinking about what that means regarding the autumn international season. I guess it does not augur well, but to be honest thoughts of England are miles away.”

With most national teams looking at this period as a last chance to experiment with untried combinations ahead of World Cup 2007, England will hope that Wilkinson can regain his fitness in time for the autumn Tests.

England also host Argentina on 11 November, as well as the Springboks in a two-Test series on 18 and 25 November.