Can Carrick become as important for England as he is for United?

Michael Carrick 2012

The deep-lying playmaker was preferred to Frank Lampard in the Three Lions’ win over Poland, and thoroughly justified his place in the side.

Michael Carrick is one of those unsung heroes; a player that gets on with his job with little fuss and allows others to claim the limelight and praise.

However, with the Manchester United midfielder a crucial member of his club squad, there is no reason why he cannot go on to be just as vital for his country.

The former West Ham and Tottenham midfielder was preferred to Frank Lampard in England’s decisive 2-0 win over Poland on Tuesday, with Carrick playing his part in the Three Lions’ qualification for the World Cup.

With the argument that Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard do not thrive when played together at national level, there is a real opportunity for Carrick to be a mainstay in the England team.

In his early days at Old Trafford, Carrick did not receive the recognition or praise for his steady performances that he deserved, with many United fans questioning his role in the team.

However, with time, Carrick’s assured figure in the heart of the Red Devils’ midfield has asserted itself to the point that he will be one of the first names on David Moyes’ teamsheet when available.

With United’s midfield struggling with injuries and dips in form, Carrick has been the one ever-present that has performed consistently and stood up and been counted. Without him, the Manchester side’s Premier League title success last term may not have been such a formality.

Despite not being blessed with an abundance of pace or strength, Carrick makes up for his lack of physical attributes through excellent positioning and a stellar reading of the game. He is not scared to put a foot in and his deep-lying tendencies mean that his back four always have a shield in front of them.

His ability on the ball is exemplary, with his range of passing as good and better than anyone in the English game. Where Italy have Andrea Pirlo or Spain have Xabi Alonso, Carrick is England’s midfield general with the ability to get attacks going with his distribution.

Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere will almost certainly all be in the England squad that travels to Brazil next summer. However, with Carrick’s presence and stature apparent for club and country, the United man should be guaranteed a starting berth in Roy Hodgson’s XI.

image: © marcel sigg

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