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Bates - Wilko will be fine

Falcons boss confident Wilkinson will return in time for Tigers

By Simon Dilger   Last updated: 13th April 2008   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Bates - Wilko will be fine

Wilkinson: stinger injury

Jonny (Wilkinson) got a bang on the head and felt a bit of a stinger down one arm. He seemed fine at the end of the game, but he was a little bit woozy and the doctor has been having a look at him and we think he'll be fine.

Newcastle boss Steve Bates
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Steve Bates says he expects Jonny Wilkinson to recover from the neck injury sustained during Newcastle's defeat by London Irish on Sunday in time to face Leicester next week.

The England fly-half played on after receiving lengthy treatment but was forced to leave the field 12 minutes before the final whistle as the Falcons slumped to a 13-8 loss at Kingston Park.

"Jonny got a bang on the head and felt a bit of a stinger down one arm," the Falcons boss explained.

"He seemed fine at the end of the game, but he was a little bit woozy and the doctor has been having a look at him and we think he'll be fine."

England duo Toby Flood and Jamie Noon, who missed the match with ankle injuries, are also expected to make a return for the clash with Saturday's EDF Energy Cup runners-up.

The coach also spoke of his disappointment with Sunday's result - the sixth consecutive defeat for the Falcons, who are yet to win a league match under the Bates.

Despite reaching the European Challenge Cup semi-finals, Newcastle are currently languishing in the lower echelons of the Guinness Premiership and only guaranteed safety from relegation thanks to Leeds' defeat by Harlequins - also on Sunday.

"That's some consolation," said Bates, "but it was a pretty poor game today and we were very disappointing in the first half and we looked very tired.

"It's a case of two steps forward and one back. We looked a little bit panicky and not comfortable on the ball.

"And while we may have never been out of it, if you looked at the scoreboard that doesn't excuse the level of performance."

London Irish's director of rugby Brian Smith was also disappointed that his Heineken Cup semi-finalists did not take five points from the game.

"We're satisfied with the win but not the performance," he said. "It's a long way up to Newcastle and long way down from the quarter-final against Perpignan.

"We don't have a big squad and we're having to ask people to soldier on and front up.

"We're delighted with the way we're going in the Heineken Cup but we have ambitions in the Premiership to finish in the top six so today was a missed opportunity for us."

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