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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 16:15 GMT
Wilkinson not fit, say Newcastle
Jonny Wilkinson pictured during England's win over Italy on Saturday
Wilkinson has started the last two matches for England
Newcastle Falcons boss John Fletcher has denied suggestions he is resting England star Jonny Wilkinson on Sunday.

Fletcher said he would have defied England and played Wilkinson against Bristol but decided the fly-half was not fit after two Six Nations matches.

"The decision was that Jonny is not fit to play - he is carrying bumps, bruises and strains after two massive games.

"He is definitely not rested - he wouldn't have played for anyone this weekend," said the Falcons coach.

Fletcher's Newcastle side go into the Premiership game against Bristol struggling in 10th place.

I'd have to be a stark raving lunatic to go in to such a game without one of the best players in the world

Fletcher on Wilkinson missing the Bristol game

And the Newcastle boss is angry at the suggestion that the injury-prone Wilkinson, who is less than three games into his latest return from injury, is being held back for England.

"I thought the statement we put out on Tuesday was pretty clear, but it seems to have been misinterpreted by a lot of people," said Fletcher.

"Nowhere in the statement did it say Jonny had been rested, and nowhere in the statement did it say the decision was made in consultation with England.

"It was a joint decision made between myself, Jonny and our medical team.

BBC Sport's James Standley

"I haven't had a conversation with England other than to tell them what decision we'd reached as a club.

"He is definitely not rested. We're 10th in the league going to play one of the top teams on Sunday.

"I'd have to be a stark raving lunatic to go in to such a game without one of the best players in the world.

"I can see why some of our supporters are upset at the suggestion that we've rested him, but that simply isn't the case."

The Falcons have selected both Mathew Tait and Toby Flood, who were on the bench for England's opening two Six Nations matches, for the trip to Bristol.

"Even without Jonny we still have a strong team, with Toby at fly-half, Mat Tait and Jamie Noon in the centres and Matt Burke at full-back."

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