OSLO, Norway – Ashley Young gave Roy Hodgson a winning start as England coach on Saturday, clinching a 1-0 victory over Norway in the team's first European Championship warmup match.
Young combined with Andy Carroll after nine minutes, scoring in his fourth consecutive international to provide Hodgson with a potential striking partnership for the Euro 2012 opener against France on June 11 when Wayne Rooney is suspended.
“I think he and Carroll have proved they can do that job,” Hodgson told British broadcaster ITV. “Both of them were really very good.”
But two weeks after taking permanent charge of an England side rocked by Fabio Capello's resignation in February, Hodgson had his first setback.
Gareth Barry, who replaced captain Steven Gerrard at halftime, limped off in the 73rd with a groin injury and the midfielder will undergo scans before the UEFA squad deadline on Tuesday.
“If it's serious that will give me something to think about as we don't have much time left,” Hodgson said.
England's victory was its first in Norway in four games since June 1966, just before England returned home and won its only World Cup title.
“It was a marvelous start to my career as the national team coach because it's not often Norway lose at home and it's a long while since we have won here,” Hodgson said. “I don't think you lay foundations in three days ... I hope any foundations we can lay will be in the coming weeks and months.”
Less than half the team that is likely to start England's first Euro 2012 match made the starting lineup in Oslo. Goalkeeper Joe Hart stayed on the bench and four Chelsea players were given an extended break after their Champions League final win a week ago.
Carroll was handed his first international start in 14 months, earning just his fourth cap.
And the much-maligned forward came close to a fourth-minute opener, latching onto a cross from Liverpool teammate Stewart Downing, but heading wide.
But it was Young, supporting Carroll up front, who ensured Hodgson's reign started with an early goal.
Carroll flicked the ball from inside the England half to Young, who raced forward and spun around Brede Hangeland before striking into the net.
“I've just got to keep putting on a performance and we'll see what happens when it comes to the Euros,” said Young. “I think it went well with Andy Carroll. We've worked on the partnership during training and there were a few good combinations between us.”
After Young's opener, England goalkeeper Rob Green parried a rising shot from Markus Henriksen on his first start since fumbling a shot into the net in the 2010 World Cup against the United States.
England captain Steven Gerrard was fortunate to stay on the pitch after a sliding studs-up challenge on Tom Hogli in the 39th that led to the Norway defender going off injured.
“He has gone to the hospital,” Norway coach Morten Olsen said. “I don't think it is very serious.”
Norway could have leveled when John Arne Riise easily skipped past substitute Theo Walcott on the left flank, but from a tight angle he sent the ball into the side netting.
“At times we should have been a bit more positive,” Hodgson said. “There's an element of keeping the ball sometimes when we maybe could have played it forward a bit earlier and get those two players in.
“We've started talking about it and sowing a few seeds.”
There were debuts for winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who replaced Young in the 72nd, and defender Martin Kelly, who came on for Phil Jones in the 88th, as England comfortably held on for the win.
England's final match before Euro 2012 is at Wembley Stadium next Saturday against Belgium.
“We've only been together with the new manager for a few days but I think it's gone OK so far,” Young said. – Sapa-AP