Roy Hodgson says young substitutes proved their worth in Ukraine match
Despite lacklustre home draw with Ukraine, coach claims the likes of Welbeck, Sturridge and Bertrand give plenty of hope for future
Agence France-Presse in London
Roy Hodgson insists England's lacklustre 1-1 draw against Ukraine won't obscure the promise of a brighter future as his young stars helped preserve their side's unbeaten start to the World Cup qualifying campaign.
Hodgson's team were on the verge of a shock defeat at Wembley as they laboured to recover from Yevhen Konoplyanka's stunning first-half strike.
But England finally sparked into life after Hodgson threw on Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck and Chelsea duo Daniel Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand in the second half.
The youthful trio gave the hosts more pace and energy after a painfully low-tempo first hour and it was Welbeck who won the penalty that Frank Lampard converted five minutes from full-time to salvage a point.
England ended an underwhelming night with 10 men after captain Steven Gerrard was sent off for a second booking in the closing moments and the Liverpool midfielder will be suspended for the next qualifier against San Marino in October.
But Hodgson is convinced the performances of his young substitutes show England, who were without the injured Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Ashley Cole against Ukraine, can cope in the absence of their top stars.
"I'm not sure I'm prepared to accept it was a bad performance, although I suppose people will always say that when we draw at home," Hodgson said. "We did miss a lot of players, but the ones that came in, including the three youngsters who came on, acquitted themselves well.
"It shows we aren't totally reliant on the old guard. Welbeck had a good impact and Bertrand was excellent as well."
Hodgson was adamant England were worthy of at least a point, even though Ukraine often looked the more incisive outfit.
"I suppose you are relieved when you are losing 1-0 and get a late equaliser, but I didn't think we did that badly," Hodgson said.
"We started very poorly in the first 10 minutes, but once we got into our stride we did well. We went 1-0 down to a wonder strike and of course against a good Ukraine side you are going to be up against it.
"But I was pleased with the way we kept probing and with the way we went about the task."
After routing group H whipping-boys Moldova 5-0 in their opening qualifier on Friday, England hardly rose to the challenge in the first true test of their mettle.
But Hodgson claimed that just underlined the quality of a group where the other significant threats are likely to come from Poland and Montenegro.
"I would be surprised if people thought it would be an easy group," he said. "We played better tonight than when we beat Ukraine at Euro 2012, but we didn't win this time."
Gerrard admitted to feeling hard done-by after being sent off.
"I don't think there was a bad tackle in the game, was there? And I think the referee's given seven yellow cards," Gerrard said. "It's disappointing for me because it's a red card - my first one in 98 caps.
"We play San Marino next. I'm sure the boys can do the job without me, but I'll be available for Poland. I'm gutted over the red, but happy with my performance.
"We wanted to win this game. We're at home with our crowd behind us, so we're disappointed not to get the three points.
"But having gone a goal down, I think we showed fantastic character and determination.