England lose Andy Carroll but resist Darren Bent temptation


After Andy Carroll limped out of his West Ham United debut with a hamstring injury, the England manager Roy Hodgson has resisted the temptation to call up another striker, leaving him with only three forwards for Friday's World Cup qualifying match in Moldova.

The decision is something of a blow to the Aston Villa striker Darren Bent, as well as Stoke City's Peter Crouch, with both looking for a recall after long periods out of the England set-up.

It is also a disappointment for Carroll, who performed well for his new club against Fulham on Saturday, the 23-year-old's aerial strengths being particularly impressive in West Ham's 3-0 victory. He joins Manchester United pair Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young on the sidelines.

Bent was left out of Hodgson's 23-man squad for the European Championship after being deemed unfit following a slow recovery from an ankle injury picked up in February. But the 28-year-old has been consistent in an England shirt, scoring four goals in his 13 caps so far, while Crouch still has a fantastic international record of 22 goals in 42 appearances.

Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Jermain Defoe will combine to form a front line that Hodgson hopes will kick-start England's campaign – though the manager remains unhappy to be without Rooney.

"We went to the Euros with Welbeck and Carroll, Sturridge played in the GB [Olympics] team," Hodgson said. "We can't deny our major attacking focus and hope was Rooney, who could only play the last couple of games in the Euros and whom we were counting on to be a major factor in our qualifying campaign from the first moment.

"It is frustrating, it is disappointing, but it is wrong for me to make too much of it because all around the world there are coaches at international and club level who are bemoaning that one of their star players, who they would have loved to use, is injured. We just have to hope it doesn't keep him out for longer."

Despite the strike force having undeniable potential, they now face a struggle to play consistently for their clubs, with the arrival of Robin van Persie at Manchester United a concern for Welbeck in particular.Tottenham's Defoe did not get the summer move that some had predicted, and it remains uncertain how much playing time the 29-year-old will get for his club this term with the available option of Emmanuel Adebayor in a 4-2-3-1 system.

Meanwhile, the faith that manager Roberto Di Matteo has shown in Fernando Torres suggests that the Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge will find his opportunities limited this term, despite playing a big part last year..

Moldova, ranked 137th in the world, appear to be only a minor interruption on the road to starting with a win, but Hodgson is not taking anything lightly, many of England's failed campaigns in the past having involved draws with more lowly opposition.

"We have to come to terms with what the stadium is going to be like, what's the atmosphere going to be like, what's the pitch going to be like – and how good are these players –and relate that to the players we choose and make sure they go into the game with the best possible preparation," Hodgson said. "We go into the game knowing they had a draw and a narrow defeat against Holland in the last qualifying campaign, so if we are not aware of the fact that this is a major hurdle of the 10 hurdles we have to jump over then we would be very, very foolish."

England travel to Chisinau to face Moldova before returning to Wembley for the visit of Ukraine a week tomorrow.


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Walking wounded

Andy Carroll

Pulled out of squad on Saturday after straining hamstring during West Ham debut against Fulham.

Ashley Young

Manchester United winger was omitted by Roy Hodgson after hurting his knee against Fulham last month.

Wayne Rooney

Left out of original squad after suffering deep cut to his leg during United's victory over Fulham nine days ago.

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