New injury woe sours England send-off
LONDON, June 3, 2012 (AFP) - England were bracing for a fresh wave of gloomy medical bulletins here Sunday after a victorious Euro 2012 send-off against Belgium was soured by injury concerns surrounding Gary Cahill and John Terry.
After a demoralising week which saw Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard sidelined for the tournament, England had hoped to draw a line under their rising casualty list with a confidence-building performance against the Belgians.
But while Danny Welbeck's classy 37th-minute finish made it two wins out of two for Roy Hodgson, the England manager was left in the familiar position of nervously awaiting scan results for two of his key players.
Cahill's participation in Poland and Ukraine was placed in doubt after a cynical shove from Dries Mertens on 17 minutes which saw the Chelsea defender collide heavily with England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Former captain Terry meanwhile exited the field in the second half after complaining of a tightening in his hamstring.
Cahill underwent an X-ray at Wembley on Saturday while Terry faces a scan later Sunday to assess the extent of his hamstring.
The loss of either central defender would be a major headache for Hodgson; losing both so close to England's June 11 opener against France in Donetsk would be a full-blown catastrophe.
"If he's fractured the jaw which is a distinct possibility then once again we lose another key element of our original group to go to Poland," Hodgson said when asked about Cahill's injury.
Hodgson was more optimistic about Terry, hoping the defender's hamstring was nothing more serious than the after-effects of a week of training.
"We've worked quite hard this week. Players are going to feel a bit tight in their muscles," Hodgson said. "As far as John was concerned, he felt a slight tightening on his hamstring.
"That doesn't necessarily mean anything other than fatigue but he will also have a scan tomorrow and I'll have a definite answer tomorrow after the scan."
Hodgson was seething at the circumstances surrounding Cahill's departure from the friendly, which saw Mertens shove Cahill into Hart in frustration as the England centre-half shielded the ball from the Belgian midfielder.
"I think you'll understand I wasn't too happy about it. Unfortunate is too kind a word," Hodgson said.
"When an attacker is chasing a defender who's screening the ball and the goalkeeper comes close, those nudges and pushes which take the defender into a goalkeeper are something you take very unkindly to.
"The referee gave him a yellow card which of course he deserved but unfortunately for us the consequences of the action might be a lot worse than a yellow card."
Hodgson would not be drawn on possible replacements for Cahill but with Everton centre-half Phil Jagielka already drafted in from the standby list following Barry's injury last week, he admitted his options were thin.
"We're running out of standby players but I'm sure we'll find one," Hodgson joked.
Hodgson meanwhile was keen to accentuate the positives from England's win, which saw an obdurate defence frustrate Belgium before Welbeck's sublimely taken first-half winner following a superb Ashley Young pass.
"It was a very good goal -- I was delighted with the way he took it and delighted with the way he fashioned it," Hodgson said. "I thought he showed remarkable calmness to keep his head on his left foot and chip it over the goalkeeper. That was obviously the highlight of the game for me."
Welbeck's winner may well have played him into the starting line-up for England's Group D opener against France, but Hodgson refused to divulge thoughts on his likely first-choice XI.
"My ideas on the starting XI get clearer every day. Certainly training sessions help but nothing like games help. The game against Norway last week and this game today has cleared up a few things in my mind," he said.
"I think I'm a lot closer to knowing how I'd like to start the game but I'm not going to talk about that."