English Premiership

Carrick happy to be in the mix

2014-11-07 08:03
Michael Carrick (AP)

Manchester - Michael Carrick is relieved to back in demand with club and country after injuries and Manchester United's worst start for 28 years made it a miserable opening to the season for the England midfielder.

United have taken just 13 points from their first 10 Premier League games, an underwhelming run that new manager Louis van Gaal has admitted is not good enough.

The last time United started so badly they responded by sacking then boss Ron Atkinson and hiring Alex Ferguson to start his legendary reign 28 years ago this week.

There's no suggestion Van Gaal's position is under threat having only been appointed in the close-season with the task of revamping a United squad that finished a dismal seventh last season under David Moyes.

But with his side currently 10th in the Premier League, Saturday's game against struggling Crystal Palace at Old Trafford is one they surely need to win to restore belief that they are heading in the right direction.

United are not helped by a defensive crisis which has seen them shorn of the services of central defenders Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Jonny Evans through a combination of injury and suspension.

That means Carrick, 33, is set to continue out of position at centre-back alongside either the inexperienced Tyler Blackett or Paddy McNair after replacing Smalling following his dismissal in the first half of United's 1-0 derby defeat at Manchester City last Sunday.

It's a role Carrick is happy to fill, even though his recall by England for their up-coming European Championship qualifier against Slovenia on 15 November and a friendly against Scotland will be in a more familiar midfield role following a long-awaited return to the squad.

"It was good news. Obviously, it was disappointing to miss out on the World Cup in the summer but that's behind me now and, to be honest, I'm just happy to be fit and playing games at the minute," Carrick said.

"After being out for so long it's great to get back in the squad here, first and foremost, and be around that.

"Especially last week, to get on and have a first taste of action and then get the call, it's been a good week."

- Back in the fold -

Carrick's substitute appearance at Eastlands was his first of the season after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in August, proving to England coach Roy Hodgson that he was ready to return to the international fold.

"He gave me a call to see how I was, fitness-wise and stuff like that. So it's great for me to be back," Carrick added.

"It's one of these things. When you get older, you probably appreciate it a little bit more.

"You never know how long you've got left in the game so I'm desperate to make the most of what I have left. I'm very pleased."

Van Gaal has other selection issues to iron out with homegrown talent James Wilson, 18, reported to be close to a start in attack alongside captain Wayne Rooney with Radamel Falcao again an injury doubt and Robin van Persie not at his best.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock was left frustrated following Monday's 3-1 defeat to Sunderland in which his side had two strong penalty appeals turned down.

Warnock, though, bit his tongue having already been fined by the Football Association for comments he made about referee Craig Pawson after the recent defeat to Chelsea.

"I'm going to be boring from now on. I know journalists appreciate my comments but they're not the ones who pay the fines. I have to watch what I say," Warnock said.

"You just have to learn about the timing of these things, with the TV interview. Twenty minutes after a game is very soon, so you have to get your thoughts together and maybe comment differently."

str/smg/bc

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