LONDON (AFP) – Roy Hodgson admitted he had a dilemma on his hands after the England manager's attacking selection crisis deepened following the 4-0 win over Moldova in World Cup qualifying.
England moved to the top of European qualifying Group H on goal difference above Montenegro after sweeping past Ion Caras's side at Wembley on Friday, but victory came at a price.
Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck, who claimed a sweetly taken double, was shown a yellow card that rules him out of Tuesday's key trip to Ukraine, who trail England by a point.
With Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll unavailable due to injury and Daniel Sturridge likely to miss out with a thigh problem, it leaves Hodgson with Rickie Lambert and Jermain Defoe as his only fit strikers.
Lambert at least is taking to international football well, having scored his second goal in two games with a first-half header, but Hodgson was angry about the circumstances that led to Welbeck's first-half booking.
The 22-year-old was cautioned for making an attempt at goal after the whistle had gone for offside and Hodgson felt that Slovakian referee Ivan Kruzliak reached for his card too quickly.
"I don't think there will be too many people, even amongst the refereeing fraternity, who will say that was a clear yellow card," Hodgson told journalists at his post-game press conference.
"A 40-yard sprint, a ball that arrives on your foot, a split-second between the whistle blowing and the shot, a team (Moldova) that's already been wasting time from the very first minute, so they'd have been delighted to see the ball going behind the goal...
"You'll have to work very, very hard to persuade me that in the rules of the game, that was a yellow card."
Hodgson added: "He's got a yellow card, he's out of the game. We'll live with it, we'll deal with it, but did I think it was a yellow card, did I think it was a correct decision? No, I didn't."
Hodgson, who revealed that Ashley Cole was substituted to spare him from the risk of a suspension-incurring booking, was nonetheless able to salute another impressive showing from Lambert.
As well as claiming England's second goal, the Southampton striker, who scored on his international debut against Scotland last month, laid on both of Welbeck's goals, either side of half-time.
"Lambert was a selection which obviously people saw to some extent as a selection which came about because two other candidates were missing, but he took his chance and that's all you can do," said Hodgson, whose side took a 12th-minute lead through captain Steven Gerrard.
"I'm sure he'll be expecting to play on Tuesday and I have to make a decision whether to go along with the expectancy or surprise him," he added with a smile.
Hodgson was less upbeat about Sturridge's chances of playing against Ukraine, however, after he missed the Moldova game with a thigh injury he aggravated in Liverpool's 1-0 win over Manchester United last Sunday.
"It's under one week since he finished the game against Manchester United and it's five days since he had the scan which shows he got a thigh strain," Hodgson said.
"He would have to recover from the thigh strain in seven to eight days. It's not impossible and there's no reason why we should give up hope, but if you're asking me if it's more than 50-50, the answer is definitely no.
"I would even fear it's worse odds than that. But he's coming tomorrow (Saturday) night and we'll assess him on Sunday, and who knows?"