Hodgson frets over Cahill fitness

England coach Roy Hodgson fears defender Gary Cahill will be ruled out of Euro 2012 with a broken jaw.


Roy Hodgson travels to Poland and Ukraine with a 100 per cent record from two games, but the performance against Belgium set neither pulses nor expectations soaring, as England ground their way to victory.

Welbeck provided the stand-out moment of class with an exquisite dinked finish on 36 minutes, but otherwise England were outplayed by a Belgian side that did not qualify for the European Championship.

Jermain Defoe hit the post late on with a low shot, while Guillaume Gillet struck the woodwork for a visiting side that struggled to turn their possession advantage into clear-cut chances.

A Belgian team containing Eden Hazard and Jan Vertonghen - both expected to move to the Premier League this summer - showed greater class and poise on the ball.

And Hodgson was handed new injury worry when Dries Mertens pushed Gary Cahill into Joe Hart early on. The England pair clashed heads, and Cahill went off for an X-ray on his jaw.

It was the last thing Hodgson needed after a week in which Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry were both ruled out of the tournament. John Terry and Steven Gerrard also exited the fray early, but their withdrawals appeared precautionary.

Hodgson made seven changes from the side that beat Norway last Saturday, handing a first start to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and giving Welbeck his first football since injury ended his club season on April 30.

The Welbeck-Young axis looks England's best bet up front during Wayne Rooney's two-match suspension, starting with a clash against France on Monday week.

Whatever Andy Carroll's less subtle charms, Welbeck offers intelligent running and a good understanding with Young, who appears nailed on for the second-striker role.

That rapport was evident when Welbeck gave England the lead on 36 minutes.

Young spotted his Manchester United colleague's run on his left, slid a fine ball through, and Welbeck lifted the ball gorgeously over Simon Mignolet for his first England goal.

A rare moment of quality in an otherwise forgettable first half.

Belgium's crop of talented youngsters have made them a side to watch for the 2014 World Cup and beyond, and they showed some neat touches.

Coach Marc Wilmots lined his side up without a recognised striker, with Eden Hazard, Kevin Mirallas and Moussa Dembele rotating positions.

It was a recipe for possession and nice-looking interplay, but not for genuine goalscoring chances, of which Belgium managed none in the first half.

Gerrard, part of a dwindling central midfield corps, spurned a double opportunity just before half-time when the ball broke to him at the edge of the box.

Timmy Simons blocked his shot, but the ball came back to Gerrard who saw his second effort blocked by Gillet.

England looked rigid throughout, never more so than when defending their lead late on. However, their two banks of four restricted Belgium to half-chances - Hazard and Fellaini bringing routine saves from Joe Hart.

Gillet had Hart beaten with a beautiful strike 12 minutes from time, as the right back struck with the outside of his right foot and watched as his 25-yarder grazed the outside of the left-hand post on its way wide.

Substitute Defoe responded by twisting in the Belgian box and hitting a low shot that rebounded off the far post from the right-hand side.

And Romelu Lukaku should have equalised in stoppage time, but was unnecessarily offside when played through by Fellaini.

A win is a win, Hodgson will say. But England produced nothing at Wembley that will concern the watching French.

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