Roy Hodgson has described the challenge that left Theo Walcott being monitored in hospital overnight as "reckless" at best, with England braced to be without the Arsenal forward when they travel to Poland next week.
Walcott was clattered at speed by the San Marino goalkeeper, Aldo Junior Simoncini, barely five minutes into his first start for his country in 11 months and, having been treated on the pitch, was helped around part of the perimeter before departing on a stretcher.
He travelled to hospital for a precautionary scan on a chest injury, with the Lithuanian referee having opted against awarding the hosts a penalty or booking Simoncini.
England eventually ran out comfortable 5-0 winners, with Wayne Rooney becoming the fifth-highest scorer in the nation's history en route and his Old Trafford club-mate Danny Welbeck also scoring twice, though Walcott's loss represented a blow.
"If I described the challenge as reckless I'd be being kind," said Hodgson. "It was a fierce challenge. I don't believe there was any malice, but it's put Theo Walcott in hospital. We have to wait to find out the extent of his injury but, if your goalkeeper does that, you're lucky to have him on the pitch for the rest of the game and not to have conceded a penalty.
"We can't accuse San Marino of playing a dirty game of football tonight. There weren't too many vicious fouls: there was one, which is the one which bothers us, and it put a dampener on the evening. But there were positives for us to take. The type of football we played was entertaining, there were almost 85,000 people here, and the third positive came in Moldova, where Ukraine only drew which means our three points there [last month] weigh more heavily in the group."
England top the section and will attempt to build on their momentum in Warsaw on Tuesday, with Hodgson hopeful Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand will be able to rejoin the squad on Sunday after withdrawing here with a calf strain and a virus respectively.
Rooney will hand the captain's armband back to Steven Gerrard but will travel on Monday buoyed by leap-frogging Nat Lofthouse, Alan Shearer and Tom Finney to register his 30th and 31st international goals.
"To be in the top five goalscorers is something I'm extremely proud of, and hopefully there are many more to come," said Rooney. "I'm still young and there's still a long way to go, after all. And captaining my country at Wembley is something I will treasure for the rest of my life – I've kept the armband and will do forever – and, of course, it gives you the taste for it further along in your career. In the future, hopefully it's something that will happen again."
"He's only 26 so it's a great achievement," said Hodgson of his stand-in captain's scoring record. "He's still got a lot of years of football left in him. I liked what he did as captain, too: I had no doubt he'd be a good captain and skipper the team well, but I'm looking forward to seeing Steven Gerrard being back in the team on Tuesday. We still have some hope that Frank Lampard's injury is not that serious and has an opportunity to join us there. We'll go to Poland with a good, strong squad who will be fresh for not playing today. The one negative is Theo, which was a bad injury."