The feeling surrounding Roy Hodgson and his team as they trudged off the field in Kiev last night was one tinged more with confusion than anything else.

A mixture of emotions that seemingly only the England team manage to bring out in abundance every time they take to the field.

On the one hand, relief and satisfaction at a result that can only be underlined as 'job done' was palpable within the squad and staff; emotions that are understandable given that England remain in at the top of their group and have their fate in their own hands. 

However, there could be no shirking from the desperation and ugliness that accompanied the performance in Ukraine. Despite Hodgson's best efforts in the post-match press conference to instil his belief that this was a match of a good quality, England yet again flattered to deceive in a World Cup qualifying campaign that has seen them only beat the might of San Marino and Moldova.

If they do manage to qualify for Rio, they will have to not only beat a fellow contender for the first time but also a team within FIFA's top 100 footballing nations; a feat they haven't achieved in a competitive match since their 1-0 victory over Ukraine in Euro 2012. 

In analysing England's drab performance, Hodgson was quick to highlight the lack of attacking options he had at his disposal given the injuries and injustice that befell England's key striking trio in Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge.

This cannot be doubted, as with the three of them back the English attack is more likely to pose much more danger than the front three of Rickie Lambert, James Milner and a strangely subdued Theo Walcott were able to last night. 

The most dangerous thing for Hodgson to do, however, is to be lulled into a false sense of security in the belief that, with the return of England's full attacking compliment, everything will once again be hunky-dory for the Three Lions. The most worrying aspect of Kiev was not their attacking threat but, rather, the performances of the central English midfield.  

In a problem area that has stretched back right to the start of the 'Lampard-Gerrard' debate that has dominated the English back pages and pub debates since early 2004, Hodgson has become the latest name in a long list of recent national managers who have attempted to overcome the central midfield conundrum.

In relying on Jack Wilshere, Steven Gerrard and centurion Frank Lampard the midfield looked very Hodgson-esque; vast experience mixed with raw youth.

However, in a game that at times displayed remarkably similar characteristics to England's last match in Kiev against Italy in the Euros last year, the English midfield were unable to assert any sort of dominance over an opposition midfield that bore no star quality.

Indeed, on the basis of his performances in the last few days one wonders whether Lampard's time in the international arena has rescinded to a purely impact basis.

Although there can be no doubting the effort the Chelsea midfielder takes when playing for England, for much of the game Lampard looked lost last night; unable to dominate the midfield or charge into the opposition box like in the days of old and, even when he did muster up the energy to do so in the last minute of the game, his header was off target.

That Lampard's presence in the squad would be beneficial is not without doubt-there is no-one who takes more pride in pulling on the shirt than him-however it seems that the time when the 35 year old was pencilled in as an international starter are quickly waning. 

To single out Lampard as the main culprit in a midfield that failed to make much of a mark on the match would be cruel, however. Wilshere found himself out-bullied and out-muscled-not often you can say that about the Arsenal man- in a performance that are only likely to alleviate injury concerns over him whilst Gerrard still does not entirely comfortable in trying to rein in his attacking instincts in his new role in front of the defence. 

It was a game that called out for the calming influence of a midfielder like Michael Carrick, and the Manchester United man must be starting to wonder if his time will ever come in the Hodgson era.

Unable to control the ball or the game, despite Hodgson's post-match statements, Carrick's inclusion would have provided the calming influence missing from a midfield that seemed stuck between caution and ambition last night. Whether Hodgson will take that on board before England's crucial next two games against Montenegro and Poland, however, remains to be seen and could be crucial in ascertaining whether his 2014 summer plans will be in Rio or in a destination as far from England as can be. 

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Topics:
#England Football
#Football
#Jack Wilshere
#Steven Gerrard