Wilkinson fitness boost but Tindall looks doubtful

FLY-HALF Jonny Wilkinson provided England manager Martin Johnson with a timely fitness boost ahead of Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against France by taking part in light training yesterday.

But vice-captain Mike Tindall, who suffered a dead leg in last weekend’s narrow victory over Scotland, sat out the session and remains a major doubt.

After another erratic kicking display Wilkinson damaged his elbow against Andy Robinson’s men, which allowed substitute Toby Flood to make a match-winning contribution off the bench.

But Toulon fly-half Wilkinson, a World Cup winner in 2003, took part in the session at Takapuna Rugby Club without any signs of strapping on his arm and Johnson must now select between Wilkinson (right) and the in-form Flood when he names his team tomorrow.

That is unless Tindall fails to recover which would present Johnson with the option of moving Wilkinson to centre and handing Flood the No10 shirt.

The back three will see Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto on the wings, after Delon Armitage picked up a one-game ban for a high tackle on Chris Paterson, with Ben Foden continuing at full-back.

Johnson’s other key decision is whether to include Tom Palmer in the second row at the expense of Courtney Lawes.

Two changes for struggling France
FRANCE coach Marc Lievremont has resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes ahead of Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against England. Les Bleus were humbled 19-14 by Tonga last weekend but Lievremont has made just two changes to that side with Nicolas Mas returning in place of Luc Ducalcon at prop, and No8 Imanol Harinordoquy promoted at the expense of Raphael Lakafia.