Jol appointment renews Carrick's England aspirations

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The Independent Online

Michael Carrick believes the appointment of Martin Jol as Tottenham's head coach can rekindle the burning desire he has to play for England again.

Michael Carrick believes the appointment of Martin Jol as Tottenham's head coach can rekindle the burning desire he has to play for England again.

Jol is under no illusions Carrick has the ability to force his way into a burgeoning central midfield under the England coach Sven Goran Eriksson.

When Carrick signed for Tottenham for £3m from West Ham United in August, Jol made it clear that the 23-year-old could become Spurs' fourth England international along with Paul Robinson, Jermain Defoe and Ledley King.

Jacques Santini did not share Jol's vision as Carrick became lost in the Frenchman's defensive mindset, where there was no room for flair.

Carrick started his first game of the season last night and, in pulling the strings from the centre of midfield, he was pivotal in a 3-0 League Cup fourth-round win over Burnley at Turf Moor.

Although the Clarets were not Premiership opposition, Carrick feels he can finally start to make his mark with Tottenham and add to his meagre haul of just two England caps - both of which he gained more than three years ago.

Carrick said: "I've never lost sight of my aspirations to play for England because once you've had a taste of it and then it's taken away from you, it makes you want it even more.

"If it does come around again then it will mean that much more because it's been a hard couple of years for me, getting relegated with West Ham and then playing in Division One.

You have to keep believing and have confidence in yourself. I've tried to do that and hopefully I am back performing at the top level, which I know I can. Obviously, the World Cup is in the back of my mind, but at the moment I'm more worried about getting my place in the Tottenham team. If I'm not playing for Tottenham then England is not going to happen, so it's up to me to play well."

The difference for Carrick is that he has a coach who believes in him, and the feeling would appear to be mutual.

"Jacques leaving was a shock for everyone, particularly the night before a big game," added Carrick. "It came out of the blue, but it's gone and we have to move on. In football things move on very quickly.

"We are now excited by Martin's appointment. He helps, gives advice, has some good ideas and the players have taken to him well.

"He is a good, honest man and the lads respect that, and I think with this win over Burnley we saw a glimpse of things to come."

The months of frustration Carrick felt under Santini are now seemingly behind him, and he is looking forward to repaying the faith shown in him by Jol.

"It has been a long time coming," said Carrick, on finally starting a match. Coming to a new club, it was always going to be hard to get into the team, especially with the calibre of players we have. I was under no illusions when I signed. I knew it was going to be difficult and that I would have to prove myself because no-one is guaranteed a place in the team.

"If there had not been quality players ahead of me then I would have asked questions, but there are very good players here - especially in midfield - and I knew I would have to wait for my chance, work hard in training and bide my time. I've done that, kept my head down and hopefully I will reap the rewards at the end of the day."

Carrick is clearly in favour with Jol, with the Dutchman adding: "I still think that [Carrick] could be the fourth England international in the team.

"I am delighted for him because he has had a difficult spell. But I told him it would make him stronger, and I think it has."