Michael Carrick full of praise for Manchester United teammate Antonio Valencia

Michael Carrick speaks highly of Manchester United teammate Antonio Valencia and highlights his importance to the team.

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has been singing the praises of teammate Antonio Valencia.

Ecuador international winger Valencia has been in impressive form in recent weeks and has shown his versatility by playing at right-back.

Signed from Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2009, the 29-year-old has not always been considered as a key player in the United, with many fans claiming that he is simply not good enough.

However, under manager Louis van Gaal this season, the former Villarreal star has stepped up his game and has made himself an important part of the side.

Carrick, who has also played in defence recently despite being a midfielder by trade, has underlined the qualities of Valencia.

"Antonio is a pure athlete,” the 33-year-old told Inside United. "He is immense. It is the work he does that doesn't get noticed, things like carrying the ball up the pitch for 30 or 40 yards when you have been defending.

"He takes you up the pitch and defenders just back up because they know about his pace. If he can go down the line, then he is pretty hard to catch…

“He is pretty much the full package. He is reserved but determined at the same time. He is quiet, he is pleasant and he is polite… He is stubborn and determined. He has got a real desire to win, like everyone at this club.”

Valencia has been filling in for Rafael da Silva at right-back, and it will be interesting to see what Van Gaal does when the Brazilian is fit enough to start.

Based on his current form, the 29-year-old does not deserve to be dropped, but Van Gaal will certainly relish having players who can step up and succeed in different positions.

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