Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of England's dismal 0-0 draw with Algeria in Cape Town at the 2010 World Cup, which ended two games later in defeat by Germany.
Five players who started in Cape Town will surely start against Ukraine tonight – Terry, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney. The shape of the team has changed very little. There has been progress of a sort, although as ever it is fragile. The comeback against Sweden gives grounds for confidence but not so much that it could not be erased quickly in Donetsk.
Gerrard was captain in 2010 too, although he considered himself no more than a "caretaker". Yesterday he said: "We are playing well. We have got Wayne Rooney back and everything is positive."
The signs last night were that Roy Hodgson, pictured, will pick Theo Walcott over James Milner on the right side of midfield. Milner has been reliable but Walcott is a gamble for potentially greater rewards. He could win the game as he did against the Swedes, but he could give England a vulnerable side they could do without.
Hodgson, however, has a sense of momentum and he sees that to lose it would be disastrous. "If you sit back you give the initiative to the opposition," he said. "Our aim will be to try to take the initiative. "
Hodgson said he had not shown his squad the video of their game against Sweden, preferring instead to review it with his coaching staff and pass their conclusions on to the players. His reasoning was that the players did not need to be exposed to their mistakes.
He said: "Sometimes you just have to accept there [will] be a period where you are going to lose the control you had. It is important sometimes to enjoy the victories."
When Gerrard was asked about playing in front of a largely hostile home crowd, his answer was to the point. "I can't wait – 50,000 fans all cheering. That is what you play football for." The home support is the least of England's worries. They know from bitter experience how quickly everything can go wrong.
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