Johnson puts his faith in Wilkinson - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johnson puts his faith in Wilkinson

15/07/2009 06:17:57 AM Comments (0)

England coach Martin Johnson believes the injury-plagued Jonny Wilkinson is potentially at the peak of his career and could prove a match-winner in the next few months.

The 30-year-old, preparing to play in Toulon colours in the French Top 14 season, was last week included in Johnson's 32-man squad despite not having played for 10 months after suffering a dislocated knee-cap.

Danny Cipriani was among those overlooked and Johnson has told the Wasps five-eighth he will only force his way back into the England team on form.

But Johnson made it clear he believes the form of 2003 World Cup-winning teammate Wilkinson will speak for itself in the autumn program, which includes Tests against Australia (November 7), Argentina (November 14) and the All Blacks (November 21).

"How do I justify picking Jonny Wilkinson? Seventy caps, two World Cup finals and X-amount of points - the sort of player you are going to favour slightly. He is a world-class player when he's fit," said Johnson.

"I think he can be as good as he ever was.

"Experience is a big part of being a good player and he's only 30 so potentially he could be at his peak because of his experience and what he's been through on and off the field over the last five, six, seven years."

Wilkinson's career has been ravaged by a catalogue of injuries and ailments since he helped England win the World Cup in 2003.

Wilkinson and Riki Flutey (Brive) are the only France-bound players to have been included in the senior squad. James Haskell and Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Tom May (Toulon) and Jamie Noon (Brive) were all excluded.

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