England will travel to Ukraine without the injured Daniel Sturridge after the Liverpool striker was forced out of this week's critical World Cup qualifier having failed to recover sufficiently from a thigh strain.
Sturridge, who had returned to the Merseyside club on Thursday to continue treatment, had hoped to prove his fitness before the crucial game in Kiev. However, he continues to be hampered by the injury sustained in a Capital One Cup tie against Notts County last month and will not be risked for the trip east.
His absence, while feared by Roy Hodgson, still constitutes a blow given England will also be without the suspended Danny Welbeck on Tuesday after he accrued a harsh second yellow card of the qualification campaign in Friday's 4-0 drubbing of Moldova at Wembley.
Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll are also absent through injury, leaving Rickie Lambert and Jermain Defoe – who has played only 37 minutes of Premier League football this season – as the only recognised forwards in Hodgson's party.
James Milner is expected to replace the banned Welbeck at the Olympic Stadium despite his own lack of opportunities this season at Manchester City. Liverpool, meanwhile, will continue to monitor Sturridge's fitness before their game at Swansea next Monday.
Hodgson will resist the temptation to call up a new striker because he does not feel there is anyone out there of sufficient quality to improve his squad. While this might sound like grist to Greg Dyke's mill, after the chairman of the Football Association bemoaned the lack of English players in the Premier League last week, the England manager sees it slightly differently.
"We have enough players to cope," he said. "We have enough balance in the squad to put out a good team on Tuesday, there is no need for us to panic.
"If I did call anyone up it would only be as cover, and there is no point doing that. There is no one I could think of who is going to jump ahead of Rickie Lambert or Jermain Defoe, both players who I know well and are tried and trusted."
Hodgson was impressed with Wilfried Zaha and Nathan Redmond in England Under-21s' victory against Moldova on Thursday, and has no objection to bringing young players into the senior squad for experience, but argues that he is doing that already.
"I did see a very good Under-21s performance, and I liked some of the players on show. Were it not for the fact we have got Theo Walcott, Raheem Sterling and Andros Townsend with us I might have considered asking them to come, but what is the point when I have got the other three? I am not going to jump them above players I selected initially."
The mask temporarily slipped when Hodgson lost his cool at Wembley over the second yellow card that put Welbeck out of the game in Kiev, but the England manager has little option but stoicism, and he knows it. "If anything happens during the match [in Ukraine] we have the cover on the bench to deal with it," he said. "What we can't do is replace Welbeck, Rooney, [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sturridge. They are gone for this game, and we just have to live with that, but there is no need to look beyond the present squad."
Steven Gerrard shared his manager's disappointment with the Welbeck booking. Speaking before Sturridge's absence from the Ukraine game was confirmed, the England captain said: "I've been told it was onside anyway and I was closer to the referee than Danny and I didn't hear the whistle. He'll be a big loss to us and we've all got our fingers crossed for Daniel Sturridge now, because it's going to be tough if we are three strikers down."
Lambert and Defoe are still available, and though the latter may be favourite to start against Ukraine if England change their formation. Gerrard was full of praise for the Southampton player who has made it to the top the hard way and now has two goals in his first two England appearances. "Rickie works hard, is a credit to himself and deserves all the praise he is getting," Gerrard said."He is a great example to young kids who are starting out at the bottom."
Gerrard is also preparing to welcome Frank Lampard into the England 100 club, and claims he made the right decision in staying to fight his corner at Chelsea. "He was too good for LA Galaxy in my opinion," he said. "I would have been sad if he had moved away from England. Of course I would have supported his decision had he decided to go, but you saw his form for Chelsea at the back end of last season, he clearly still had a lot to offer in the Premier League, and for England too. Anyone who gets near 100 caps deserves all the accolades he gets. Frank's been a top player for club and country for a very long tim