Michael Carrick defends Wayne Rooney's absence from England squad due to head wound

The Manchester United striker has a deep gash on his forehead

Michael Carrick insists Wayne Rooney would have made himself available for England if there was any chance of being fit.

Rooney withdrew from the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine after he suffered a nasty head wound in training for Manchester United ahead of their weekend defeat at Liverpool.

United manager David Moyes believes it will be three weeks before Rooney is able to play, whilst Theo Walcott has also spoken of the gruesome pictures he has seen of the incident.

Yet some observers, recalling Terry Butcher's heroic blood-soaked contribution to an England 1990 World Cup qualifier in Sweden, question whether Rooney needs to be out quite so long.

Carrick was part of the training session when Rooney got injured.

And he feels the criticism is extremely harsh.

"We know what he is like," said the midfielder.

"If there was a way of playing he would. It is easy for people to look at the past and compare with what has gone on but every situation is different.

"It was a bad cut. It wasn't nice to see.

"It is unfortunate but it is something that we will deal with."

Roy Hodgson's problem is that Rooney's absence will almost certainly be compounded by the loss of Daniel Sturridge for Friday's encounter with Moldova.

Sturridge has been unable to train properly due to a groin injury he aggravated in the pre-match warm-up at Anfield and Hodgson accepts that realistically, the striker's only hope is to be available for the crucial trip to Ukraine next week.

With Glen Johnson and Phil Jones both ruled out, Hodgson's options at right-back have thinned out significantly too, once again opening the debate on the development of English players.

It was a subject new Football Association chairman Greg Dyke was expected to discuss in his key speech in London this afternoon.

However, Carrick accepts there are no easy answers.

"It is a tough one," he said.

"You can spend a lot of time talking about it, and come up with reasons, for and against.

"There are still English players at the top level and certainly, there are an awful lot of English players in our team at Manchester United.

"If you are good enough you will get through but it is probably becoming harder because of the economic situation and people looking abroad.

"Now the transfer fees are so high maybe it will come back round to people looking at English players again.

"Hopefully that is the case because it would be nice to see a lot more home-grown talent getting a chance.

"But it is easy for me to say that. There is a bigger picture."

Carrick also accepts a more measured view of younger players has to be taken, laughing out loud when asked if, following the inclusions of Andros Townsend and Ross Barkley in Hodgson's latest squad, England now had a new 'golden generation'.

"It goes from one extreme to the other," he said.

"I see an awful lot of talent but it is easy to get carried away.

"You need to have a balanced view."

Forthright words from Dyke, or anyone else for that matter, are not going to be much help to England over the coming days.

With Group H leaders Montenegro taking on Poland, England have a chance to strengthen their claims for direct qualification by beating Moldova at Wembley.

Carrick was part of the side which opened their campaign with a five-goal win in Chisinau 12 months ago, when it appeared Moldova would be swept aside by everyone but San Marino.

As it turned out, they were good enough to claim home draws against Ukraine and Poland and almost sneak a result off Montenegro too, so Carrick accepts there can be no room for complacency.

"We won't be complacent at all," he said.

"That result in Moldova was terrific but it is gone. There is nothing from that game we can take into this one.

"It is a whole new scenario."

PA

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