Rooney labels Carrick England's best player against Italy 'by far'

The Manchester United striker thought his fellow Red Devil was clearly better than anyone else for England or Italy.

England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney was fairly happy with England's 1-1 draw in Italy, with his side having struggled in the first half. The 29-year-old was able to point to the introduction of one Old Trafford teammate as the catalyst for an improved performance after the break, when speaking with ITV after the game.

"I think we deserved to win it," the striker said. "We had the better chances. Italy were the better team in the first half, partly because of ourselves, and second half we dominated.

"Overall we are pleased with the draw and it keeps us on an unbeaten run since the summer. I thought the best player on the pitch by a mile was Michael Carrick when he came on. He dictated the play for us and was the difference between the two teams.

"It is a friendly, we are missing players, but a good chance for the players who came to give the manager something to think about."

Carrick certainly made an impact on the game when he arrived just before half time.

England were losing 1-0 and looking out of ideas when it came to dealing with Italy's dominant midfield.

Had it not been for an injury to Chris Smalling, another United player, who knows when the former Spurs man would have taken to proceedings, if at all.

But coming on as he did in the 44th minute, and particularly once the second half started, Carrick proved just how valuable he is for England with a composed and cohesive performance 

The 33-year-old's qualities stood out all the more given how much Phil Jones struggled in that same, unfamiliar midfield role. With the central defender dropping back into the back four once Smalling went off injured, the opportunity was there for Carrick to help England to an impressive second period that would ensure they left Turin with a share of the spoils.

Perhaps Carrick is finally set to claim a first team role for his country - and long overdue it would be.

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