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London Irish 16:30 Harlequins

Dickson set for bench spot

By Ben Blackmore.   Last Updated: 20/09/06 12:00pm

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Newcastle Falcons will welcome back one of rugby's forgotten men on Friday, when Lee Dickson returns to the bench for their Premiership encounter with London Irish.

The England Under-21 half-back has spent the last nine months battling to save his career after undergoing a total knee reconstruction.

Dickson tore his anterior cruciate and medial ligaments in last season's 17-15 victory over Wasps, but club director of rugby John Fletcher is now hoping to call on his returning number nine on Friday.

"We're thrilled to have Dicko back fit again," he told the club's website.

"Last Sunday at Saracens saw Hall Charlton pick up a shoulder injury, which thankfully isn't as serious as we thought it might be, but Lee's return to fitness comes at an absolutely vital time nonetheless."

Dickson's return provides some much-needed good news for the Falcons, who recently lost Jonny Wilkinson to a similar problem.

And the former 21-year-old had some encouraging words for his colleague, insisting his own time out of the game has helped him become a better player.

"In hindsight the year out might have done me some good in the long term," explained Dickson.

"It was a devastating blow at first, but it's given me time to work on parts of my game which needed improving, and I've had the chance to watch a lot more rugby.

"Our strength coach Bob Morton has worked me hard in the gym, helping me put on another stone, and the rehab work from our physio Salwa Bowen has been awesome.

"I'm just glad to be back fit again, and hopefully I'll get a chance to come off the bench on Friday."

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