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Premier League

Michael Carrick hopes to avoid defensive role for Manchester United

Michael Carrick is keeping his fingers crossed that he is not pressed into service as an emergency defender for Manchester United when they tackle Bolton on Saturday.

Sir Alex Ferguson could be without 11 players for the Barclays Premier League encounter with their fellow FA Cup semi-finalists.

An already extensive injury list grew even longer during last night's 2-1 Champions League triumph over Marseille at Old Trafford, with two right-backs, John O'Shea and Rafael, limping off with hamstring problems.

Unless Jonny Evans is able to recover from a calf problem that has kept him out of United's last eight games, Ferguson will have only four fit defenders available, including Brazilian youngster Fabio, who became his side's third right-back last night even though most of his first-team experience has come on the left flank.

It is a similar position to the one United found themselves in last December, when both Carrick and Darren Fletcher found themselves in defence for a match at Fulham when the Red Devils lost 3-0.

United face Bolton having lost their last two league games, at Chelsea and Liverpool, and their lead over Arsenal is down to three points having played a game more, so they can hardly afford any more setbacks.

And Carrick is hoping to avoid more defensive duties in the search for a solution to Ferguson's injury woes.

"It did get a mention in the changing room," Carrick told MUTV.

"I said to Mike Phelan 'I don't fancy that again'.

"It is never nice to get the injuries of course. It is disappointing when you pick up a number in a similar position.

"But I don't think we are that desperate yet and hopefully I won't be called upon."