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Wilkinson to miss England camp

England manager Martin Johnson will be without fly-half Jonny Wilkinson for next week's Twickenham training camp after Toulon confirmed they would not be releasing him.

Toulon announced that Wilkinson would "honour his contract" and remain in France for their opening match of the Top 14 season against Bayonne on August 13.

England forwards Tom Palmer and James Haskell are likely to attend the camp for just 24 hours before returning to Paris for Stade Francais' Friday night fixture against Bourgoin.

The French clubs are not obliged to release their players because England's training camp, which runs from August 8-14, falls outside of the official international window.

England locked horns with Stade Francais during the Six Nations over the issue of access to Haskell, prompting club owner Max Guazzini to claim the player was being held hostage. But the Rugby Football Union have been anxious to avoid any confrontation on this occasion and all three players are understood to have Johnson's backing to play for their clubs.

In Wilkinson's case, England also considered the fact he is carrying a shoulder problem that has ruled him out of Toulon's pre-season game against Stade on Thursday.

Injured England Saxons squad members Louis Deacon, Geoff Parling and Matt Mullan will also miss the training camp in order to continue treatment at their clubs.

The Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley, who missed the summer tour with a knee injury, will be reviewed by England's medical staff on Tuesday.

"We believe that these have been the right decisions to take after close and amicable consultation with the clubs concerned," said Johnson.

"We will continue to have regular contact and, subject to fitness, look forward to seeing all of the players when we meet again at the end of October ahead of the Investec internationals."


From Belfast Telegraph