England hit by pre-Euro injuries from Belgium win

Roy Hodgson picked up his second win as England coach on Saturday but also left Wembley Stadium with two new injury concerns barely a week before the team's European Championship campaign starts.

Updated: June 03, 2012 15:45 IST
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Wembley: Roy Hodgson picked up his second win as England coach on Saturday but also left Wembley Stadium with two new injury concerns barely a week before the team's European Championship campaign starts.

Starting central defenders Gary Cahill and John Terry were sent for scans after being forced off in a 1-0 victory over Belgium that maintained England's perfect record under Hodgson.

Hodgson lost two central midfielders this week when Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry were ruled out of Euro 2012, where England opens against France on June 11.

Terry came off in the second half with a hamstring problem, although his scan was mainly precautionary.

Hodgson was more concerned about Cahill, who was having an X-ray on his jaw after being pushed into goalkeeper Joe Hart by Dries Mertens in the first half.

"If he's fractured the jaw, which is a distinct possibility, then of course we lose another key element of our original group," Hodgson said. "If he hasn't fractured it and it's a case of a bad bruise instead it won't stop him going with us."

A far-from-convincing victory over a talented Belgium side was secured by Danny Welbeck's first international goal in just his second start, netting in the 36th minute after being fed by Ashley Young.

"It was a good piece of work from the two front players," Hodgson said. "They worked well together to pressurize the Belgium defense.

"When Ashley played him in I thought he showed remarkable calmness to keep his head on his left foot and chip it over the goalkeeper (Simon Mignolet)."

Becoming the youngest England goalscorer — at 21 years and 189 days — since Theo Walcott in 2008 could help Welbeck's chances of filling the void left by Wayne Rooney when his Manchester United teammate is suspended for the France and Sweden games at Euro 2012.

Rooney replaced Welbeck early in the second half to make his first appearance under Hodgson after shaking off an apparent toe injury.

Jermain Defoe came on for Young to work in tandem with Rooney, hitting the post late on as he was deployed by Hodgson for the first time. Andy Carroll didn't feature after leading the strike force in Norway.

While Hodgson stuck with the central defensive partnership of captain Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker against Belgium, teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was given a first start on the left wing. James Milner on the right flank was one of only four players retained by Hodgson from the starting lineup against Norway.

The 18-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain made a determined start, getting plenty of possession in his second England appearance a week after his debut.

"I thought he did some very good things,"Hodgson said. "But we will have to keep working on what we expect from him."

Despite scuffing an early shot over the bar as he slipped, the speedy Arsenal player came closer after being teed up by Welbeck, just striking over.

In a physical contest littered with fouls, Belgium, which didn't qualify for the Euros, fell behind after Gerrard won possession on the halfway line and set Young free on a counterattack and Welbeck to score.

But the Belgium threat persisted throughout as the English struggled to impose themselves, with Guillaume Gillet's rising shot hitting the post in the second half.

"There is certainly a lot of work we need to do on our shape offensively," Hodgson said. "Sometimes when we have got the ball we are too wide in the wide areas and not making enough of getting the ball into those pockets behind the midfield players but it is something we are working on. But I am pretty happy really with the defensive shape."

That was helped by Parker managing to complete 90 minutes for the first time following an Achilles' injury that ruled him out of Tottenham's last four matches of the season.

"I'm happy he's got over the injury and is fit to play," Hodgson said. "But towards the end of games he is running on memory."

The match was used by FIFA to test Hawk-Eye's goal-line technology system. Although the referee wouldn't have been allowed to use the signals from the cameras, there were no situations where there was any doubt if the ball crossed the line.

At halftime, a special UEFA award was presented to England centurions David Beckham, Peter Shilton and Bobby Charlton.

The 37-year-old Beckham, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, made the last of his 115 appearances for England in 2009.

Family members of the late 1966 World Cup captain Bobby Moore and Billy Wright, a defender in the 1940s and '50s, also received the commemorative cap and medal from FA chairman David Bernstein.

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