Roy mulls over selection issues
Roy Hodgson admits he may find it difficult to make changes for Friday's Euro 2012 showdown with Sweden - but accepts tiredness force his hand.
At one point during the second-half of Monday's 1-1 draw with France, Scott Parker was bellowing "I'm okay" at the dug-out, even though it was obvious the Tottenham man had hit a physical wall.
Given Parker's lack of match sharpness following his late season Achilles problem and the enormous effort required to subdue France's invention in strength-sapping 31 degree heat, it was hardly a surprise he should succumb.
At 31, Parker is not in the first flush of youth and his central midfield partner Steven Gerrard is a year older.
Clearly, it is a fact that cannot be ignored, even if Kiev later this week promises to be significantly cooler than it was in the Donbass Arena.
However, after returning to England's Krakow HQ at 1.30am on Tuesday morning, and then undergoing a recovery session later in the day, England boss Hodgson realises after a battling display like yesterday's, telling someone they are dropped would not be a particularly easy task.
"I will have to assess the freshness of my team and see whether they are able to do that again," said Hodgson.
"My gut feeling, if we have a good recovery day on Tuesday, a sensible training day on Wednesday and sensible recovery day on Thursday, is that it will be very hard for me to leave people out.
"If we said 'we're going to give you a rest because it's too much to play two games in four days' some of them would have us up against the wall."
A more obvious way forward on Friday might be for Hodgson to keep a close eye on the time of his substitutions, particularly if England can establish a winning position, which is likely to mean a qualification showdown with Ukraine in Donetsk next Tuesday.
"Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard are both over 30 and had to work really hard," said Hodgson.
"But I'm sure I'm not going to be the only coach wondering 'can they do it every four days?' about their players. That is what tournament football is about.
"What we've got to make certain of, is that if they can't, or start to show signs of fatigue, that others are ready to go in and do exactly the same job."
As he spoke in the bowels of a fine stadium, the finer points of his team's performance might not have been apparent to Hodgson.
When he eventually got to analyse them, he would have seen they spent enormous periods of the game without the ball.
Partly this was due to the defensive solidity and adherence to team shape the new manager has demanded.
On too many occasions though, it was because England failed to respect possession, an age-old fault that will not be solved in the short period of time since Hodgson's appointment as Fabio Capello's successor.
"It's in the final third, isn't it?" said Hodgson, when asked which area he saw the potential for most improvement.
"Once or twice, especially in the first half, there were some very promising counter-attacks which broke down because we tried a one-touch pass to finish it off rather than taking an extra touch.
"The French were just the opposite. They don't play a lot of one-touch football around the penalty box.
"They take two or three touches, hold onto the ball and ask another question."
Watching from the stands, former England international Chris Waddle concluded the matter cannot be sorted until parents of the very youngest players are re-educated and guided away from the win-at-all-costs attitude.
Hodgson, with a four-year contract that runs until after Euro 2016, is not so pessimistic.
"Looking at France, you can expect a bit more from them when they get in the final third than I can expect from our players," he said.
"You've got to make allowances for the fact Ashley Young hasn't always played that position, and Danny Welbeck, who did really well, is only 21.
"The mood in the dressing room is exceptionally good because we have shown we can handle difficult conditions, against a France team of that quality, and come away with a good result."
And all that without suspended striker Wayne Rooney, who will return to face Ukraine expecting England to be still in the thick of a qualification battle.
"He is our real ace in the hole because he is very fit and raring to go," said Hodgson.
"If he can play like we know Wayne Rooney can, we're going to be a bit more difficult to beat.
"You can only benefit from having someone of his quality in your team."