Michael Carrick content with emergency cover role at Manchester United

 

Michael Carrick did not have a problem turning into a makeshift central defender even though he is happy Manchester United's injury crisis is starting to ease.

After catching the eye with his solo run and goal at QPR just before Christmas, triggering a demand from Sir Alex Ferguson for him to assume greater responsibility within the Red Devils set-up, Carrick found himself operating as a defender for the Christmas fixtures against Wigan and Blackburn.

Although the first outing went well, the second saw his mistake contribute to Blackburn opening up a two-goal lead, which United fought back from, only to concede a third near the end.

It was the start of a two-match losing sequence that conceded the Premier League title initiative to favourites Manchester City and that must be arrested when United entertain relegation-threatened north-west neighbours Bolton on Saturday.

With Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and, possibly, Jonny Evans all likely to be available, Carrick is unlikely to be required anywhere other than his favoured midfield berth.

But he was happy enough to take his defensive experiment in his familiar laidback style.

"I don't really know why I was the one who ended back there but I don't mind," he said.

"I haven't got a problem with it because you have to do what you can for the team. Things happen and you have to react.

"I don't want it to be too regular because we've got top centre-halves and the quicker everyone's back, the better.

"Once we get players back in their right positions we can get the consistency back, be a solid unit and defend well again."

And the added bonus is that Carrick will get the opportunity to play alongside Paul Scholes again after the 37-year-old's shock retirement U-turn.

Carrick was one of those who wanted Scholes to come back - though it is believed Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand were the chief agitators, telling their long-time team-mate to seek out Ferguson.

Yet it was Carrick who on Friday expressed a wish for Scholes still to be involved, even though it might affect his own place in a team Ferguson wanted him to become the central component of.

"I haven't changed as a player," said Carrick.

"Maybe as you get older and gain more experience it brings more responsibility. You're looked at slightly differently.

"That's fine. I'm comfortable with that.

"But I'm not going to change. You've got to do what you're good at and keep improving."

PA

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