Roy Hodgson has fitness fears over England midfield duo Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard

Manager anxious about midfield pair but wants to keep same line-up to face Sweden

Krakow

Roy Hodgson has admitted that he is having profound doubts about whether he can continue pressing Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard into service at the heart of his England side, but suggested that he may be forced to do so.

Parker, 31, joined the England squad with an Achilles injury and Gerrard, 32, also now has to manage himself very carefully between games. The Tottenham Hotspur player said that "with not a lot of cover in midfield" he and Gerrard "just have to keep going" in what he is already finding to be "a very intense tournament [with] conditions that are very difficult".

Hodgson, who was anxious to take Parker off when the midfielder initially rejected his attempts to do so against France, said that the Parker/Gerrard fitness issue was "the big question". But he has also provided an indication that his starting XI against Sweden in Kiev's Olympic Stadium on Friday will be the same as the one that drew 1-1 with France. The Independent's columnist Rafael Benitez said that Gerrard's routine between games was vital. "Outside the game he will be doing the right things," Benitez said. "After and before games, the right things."

With Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere all missing, the only back-ups are the untested Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones, who has looked more comfortable in central defence. Hodgson also sees Phil Jagielka as a midfield reserve.

Hodgson yesterday made no secret of the fact that this campaign is predicated on maintaining good progress until Wayne Rooney's return against Ukraine next Tuesday. "Our real ace in the hole, I think, should be Rooney, because he is very fit and he's raring to go," Hodgson said. "If he can play like Wayne Rooney, then we're going to be a bit more difficult to beat, because you can only benefit from having someone of his quality in your team."

There are already signs of division in the Swedish camp, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic understood to be dismayed by the unprofessionalism he perceived in his team-mates after the 2-1 defeat to Ukraine in the Olympic Stadium on Monday.

The Swedes' performance angered the Milan striker less than the fact that he saw some players waving to their wives and girlfriends in the stands in Kiev when they should have been going through a warm-down.

"Ibra feels the pain very much when Sweden don't do well and it was the same old story on Monday night," said a Swedish source. "After the game he thought the players should have had their eyes on the next game against England, rather than saluting their partners in the stands. They had lost the game after all. This is Ibra, though. He is rarely completely happy."

Ibrahimovic is thought to have been particularly unhappy with centre-forward Markus Rosenberg, picked on Monday ahead of his favoured striker partner, Johan Elmander. Ibrahimovic has asked that Elmander, the former Bolton Wanderers striker, be selected to face England.

Hodgson indicated that he does not need to ring the changes for Sweden. "I don't think it will be horses for courses, as such," he said. "We don't need that – horses for courses – where our players are capable of playing against two different styles of football. I will have to, of course, assess the freshness and see whether or not they are able to do that again.

"My gut feeling, if we have a good recovery day [yesterday], a sensible training day on Wednesday and sensible recovery day on Thursday, is that we're going to make it very hard for people to leave them out. I think if we said 'we're going to give you a rest because it's too much to play two games in four days' I think some of them would have us up against the wall!"

There are no plans to replace Hodgson's goalkeeping coach, Ray Clemence, who left here on a 6pm flight yesterday with an England team medic, having snapped an Achilles tendon during Monday evening's warm-up.

France manager Laurent Blanc drew comparisons between England and France as he discussed the 1-1 draw in Donetsk yesterday. "In sport, in football, you can win games this way – over the duration of a tournament, however, you have to show some attacking ambition."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent