CHISINAU — England manager Roy Hodgson faces a nervous wait to discover if John Terry will be fit for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine after the Chelsea defender played through the pain barrier in the 5-0 rout of Moldova.
Terry suffered an ankle injury in the first half at the Zimbru Stadium on Friday and then aggravated the problem when he landed awkwardly after the break, but he initially refused Hodgson's offer to come off as England had already used all three substitutes.
The 31-year-old was finally substituted in the closing moments, but Hodgson admits Terry's earlier determination to keep playing could force him out of England's second qualifier at Wembley next week.
"I'd liked to have taken him off and we did suggest we could play with 10 men," Hodgson said.
"He's a warrior though, so he poo-pooed the suggestion he should come off with 20 minutes to go.
"He took a kick on the ankle in the first half and then twisted it slightly when he landed in front of the bench in the second half.
"They're assessing him at the moment. It's obviously not a very serious injury, but every knock is important with only three days between games."
If Terry is unable to feature against Ukraine, Hodgson would most likely select Chelsea's Gary Cahill to partner Joleon Lescott in the heart of England's defence.
There was better news over captain Steven Gerrard, who came off at half-time as "a precaution" but should be available for the Ukraine clash, while Hodgson also revealed Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole has returned to training against missing Friday's game with an ankle injury.
Fitness bulletins aside, Hodgson was delighted to start on the road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with an emphatic victory.
After England's tame Euro 2012 quarter-final exit against Italy, this was exactly the kind of vibrant display required to restore faith in Hodgson's team, even if Moldova were every bit as bad as their 141st position in FIFA's world rankings suggested.
England's biggest away win since their 7-1 defeat of San Marino in 1993 was launched by two goals from Frank Lampard, who has now scored 25 times for his country, one more than World Cup winner Geoff Hurst.
Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe was also on the scoresheet as he justified Hodgson's decision to select him ahead of Danny Welbeck, while James Milner and Leighton Baines scored their first England goals in the final minutes.
"I am very pleased. It's the first match in a qualifying group for a World Cup, which is always a nervous occasion," Hodgson said.
"You're always concerned you'll not produce the performance you want, but we got off to the best possible start and controlled the game throughout. I don't think the scoreline flattered us
"Now we have a couple of days to prepare for the next one. Tuesday is against one of the teams who could be one of the favourites to win the group.
"I hope the recovery time is sufficient and the players can muster their strength again to give another good performance."
Prior to Hodgson's appointment as Fabio Capello's successor, Lampard's international future looked in doubt.
But the 34-year-old Chelsea midfielder will remain part of England's plans as long as he keeps up this kind of intelligent, energetic performance.
"Frank was excellent," Hodgson said. "Quality is permanent, and that's proved itself time and time again.
"He might not always play to the top of his game, because football is football, but you're better off going into games having that quality on the field."
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »