Spain v England

Carrick kept England faith through tough times

February 11, 2009

Michael Carrick insists he never got depressed when he was left out of the England squad.

Carrick is hoping to win his 16th cap in the friendly against Spain in Seville on Wednesday night.

Indeed, the 27-year-old Manchester United midfielder might be handed a starting spot by Fabio Capello after his outstanding performance in the friendly win over Germany last November.

That night in Berlin marked Carrick's return to the biggest stage after he had been strangely overlooked for most of Fabio Capello's first year in charge.

But the former Tottenham man did not allow the snub to affect him. With the Premier League title and Champions League trophies to go for, there was no point in getting down anyway.

"It goes without saying I wanted to be in the squad but when I wasn't selected there was no point moaning and sulking about it," he said.

"What was it going to change if I went around moping? I always knew that if I played consistently well for United then I would be picked.

"It was not something I was worried about. It was just a case of getting it right at United because I believed I would get back in the squad if I was playing well enough and that has been the case.

"I didn't lose any sleep about it because it wasn't something I could control. Now the hard part is staying there."

Judging by the plaudits that have started to come his way recently, it seems the football world is beginning to wake up to the notion that Carrick is actually quite good.

His refusal to needlessly give away possession marks him out as the ideal team-mate, especially against the most demanding opposition and if he does not charge about making tackles as fellow Geordie Bryan Robson used to, his positional sense makes him almost as effective.

The one area of his game Carrick would like to improve is his goalscoring.

So far, he has managed just two this season, the last of which came at the start of United's amazing run of clean sheets against Stoke 13 Premier League games ago. But as with the England situation, it is not a weakness he is getting too concerned about.

"It would be nice to score more and who would say any different?" he reflected.

"But I never set myself a target at the start of a season. Different games dictate how you play and you accept that. I am not really too fussed who scores as long as we win.

"I know you can point to people like (Frank) Lampard and (Steven) Gerrard but they are different players.

"There have been plenty of great midfield players who haven't scored goals.

"You just have to judge each individual on what they bring to the team and I am happy doing what I am doing at the moment."