Young earned England their first win over the Norwegians since 1980 with a clinical finish after only nine minutes.
But it was worrying to see half-time substitute Gareth Barry last only 26 minutes before making way for stand-by player Jordan Henderson.
Barry had been part of the 2010 World Cup squad when not fully fit and failed to show his best form.
The line-up selected by Hodgson is likely to bear little resemblance to the side which will face France in the Euro 2012 opener in 17 days time.
Only Andy Carroll, skipper Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker and Ashley Young are near certainties to play in Donetsk, and the entire back five will probably change.
But there were still encouraging signs for Hodgson, who maintained the record of no England manager having been beaten in their opening game since Alf Ramsey in 1963.
Young looked sharp and confident in the second striker role and showed encouraging signs in tandem with Carroll.
Parker looked to be suffering no ill-effects from his Achilles problem and dictated and bossed the midfield in his 55 minutes of action.
Centre-back Joleon Lescott also staked his claim to have a major role in Hodgson's plans in Poland and Ukraine with a commanding performance.
Carroll made his first England start for 14 months in a line-up which showed seven changes from the side which started against Holland at Wembley in February.
Gerrard skippered the side for the 16th time - but the first as official England captain.
Carroll threatened the first moment of danger when he got on the end of a left-wing cross from Stewart Downing but headed wide under pressure from Brede Hangeland.
After nine minutes the sharp-looking Young broke the deadlock. Carroll played the ball to the Manchester United winger, who turned past Hangeland before firing a low shot past Rune Almenning Jarstein into the far corner of the net.
Norway retaliated and Robert Green reacted well to parry aside a rising shot from Markus Henriksen which deflected off Leighton Baines.
But the West Ham keeper was relieved when the resulting inswinging corner from Blackburn midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen struck the near post.
England looked the more dangerous and Norway were again stretched when James Milner broke down the right and, after cutting inside, he forced Jarstein to save at his near post.
Gerrard was spoken to by German referee Michael Weiner shortly before half-time after showing his studs in a challenge on Tom Hogli, who tried to resume after treatment but was substituted and replaced by Espen Ruud.
The Liverpool player was booed by Norway fans for the remainder of the half and did not start the second half - as indicated by Hodgson on Friday. Barry came on and took over the armband - until his early exit.
Young was quickly back into his stride after the break and earned a free-kick on the edge of the box after being fouled by Vadim Demidov.
Baines' free-kick flew right through the defensive wall and forced a fine low save by Jarstein away to his left.
Riise continued to look Norway's most dangerous player and he skipped past substitute Theo Walcott before forcing Green to parry out a near post drive.
Ruud made good contact on a 20-yard volley but it flew straight at Green.
Hodgson gave debuts to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Martin Kelly in the closing stages - as replacements for Young and Phil Jones respectively - as England held on with relative ease for the victory in warm conditions.