Manchester United defensive crisis: Louis van Gaal could turn to Michael Carrick to ease shortage

Van Gaal currently has three centre-backs missing

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The Independent Online

Louis van Gaal could turn to Michael Carrick as the defensive crisis at Manchester United deepens.

The 33-year-old has played at the back on occasion before but after returning to light training at Carrington, reports state that the English midfielder has held a conversation with the Dutch manager about filling in at the back.

With Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Tyler Blackett all unavailable for the match with West Ham on Saturday, Van Gaal is looking at fielding a weakened back four At Old Trafford in the short term. In the medium term Van Gaal sees Carrick as a potential solution for what has been an area of huge concern.

United have won just one of their first five matches in the Barclays Premier League this season, conceding eight goals including five to newly-promoted Leicester City at the weekend.

Despite spending £150m this summer, United have been severely depleted at the back after the exits of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra.

Marcos Rojo can play either in the middle or at left-back but has performed with mixed results in his first two games, while Luke Shaw is yet to make his United debut with reports suggesting that Van Gaal doesn’t rate the £27m teenage left-back. Daley Blind is versatile enough to play in midfield or at the back but has so far performed in a central midfield role.

Jonny Evans was injured at the King Power Stadium and an initial scan has shown he could be out for up to four weeks, while Phil Jones is expected back in the next few weeks.

Tyler Blackett is suspended for the game at West Ham and while he has shown potential in parts he was run ragged by Jamie Vardy, Leonardo Ulloa and David Nugent at the weekend before being sent off.

Chris Smalling is the one centre-back who is fully fit but Van Gaal may turn to the experienced Carrick over Rojo or Blind to provide a calming influence on a newly-formed defence.

Van Gaal could also return to the 3-5-2 formation that he opted for at the start of the season, though Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard, who have played at wing-back this season, are both injured.

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