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Carrick may start season in defence

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick could be used as an emergency central defender at the start of the Premier League season, Sir Alex Ferguson has suggested.

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United are down to their last two specialist centre-backs - the injury-prone Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, who has not played a competitive game for eight months.

And midfielder Carrick may have to drop into the back four for the trip to Everton on August 20.

The England international has previously played there, notably during an injury crisis in December 2010, and has been used as an auxiliary defender again during the club's pre-season fixtures because of the absences of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.

"Evans is recovering from an operation," Ferguson told the club's official website. "Smalling is out for three months. Jones got a muscle injury in his back and was sent home from Norway.

"So the area we're concerned about is centre-back. Evans won't be ready for the start of the season. He won't be far away but he won't be ready.

"Smalling is out and I can't give you an update with Jones because we've not fully diagnosed that. But Michael Carrick was absolutely brilliant [in Sweden] with his passing the ball and his interceptions. He was fantastic."

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