Flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson suffered a left knee dislocation on Tuesday that might keep him off the pitch for several weeks as England braces to face all three teams of the Tri-nations and the Pacific Islanders in November.
Jonny Wilkinson looks set to miss England's November meetings with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa after suffering a dislocated left knee.
The flyhalf was forced off the field 25 minutes into his club Newcastle's Premiership defeat at Gloucester on Tuesday evening and it was confirmed the following morning that the injury is, as feared, a serious one.
Newcastle director of rugby Steve Bates said: "It is obviously disappointing for Jonny to receive an injury just when he was back playing fantastic rugby, but he has enormous strength of character and I am sure he will come back stronger despite this blow."
The knee dislocation is the latest in a string of injury setbacks for the player who kicked the winning drop goal in the final seconds of the 2003 World Cup final.
The 29-year-old hardly played between the 2003 and 2007 World Cups and only returned from a six-month lay-off in September following shoulder surgery.
In the wake of England's 2003 triumph, Wilkinson was initially sidelined by a shoulder problem but knee, bicep and groin injuries have afflicted him since then and he has also required surgery to cure kidney and appendix problems.
The latest injury came after he twisted his knee at a ruck that had formed following one of his trademark tackles on Gloucester's Olly Morgan.
England are due to begin their November Test series against the Pacific Islanders on November 1 before facing all three Tri-Nations sides on successive weekends.
Ironically, the injury to Wilkinson will make life easier for England's head coach Martin Johnson, who looks set to have 20-year-old Danny Cipriani available to him in November.
Cipriani, who last season displaced Wilkinson as England's first choice number ten, was due to make his earlier-than-expected comeback from a serious ankle injury on Wednesday, when his club Wasps face Bath.
But Wilkinson's heir apparent cannot be called into the England squad unless someone is injured or suspended as he was left out of a 32-man elite squad named by the Rugby Football Union back in July.
At the time, it was anticipated that Cipriani would not be back in action before mid-November and he was effectively ruled out of the November series.
Now it seems Wilkinson's misfortune will open the door for him to take on the Wallabies, Springboks and All Blacks.
Date created : 2008-10-01