Rio Ferdinand believes Michael Carrick is the most underrated player in England and said he is a worthy successor to Paul Scholes in the Manchester United midfield.
Defender Ferdinand has played alongside Carrick for West Ham, United and England but the 31-year-old has rarely made headlines in that time. And the centre-back believes that Carrick is unappreciated outside Old Trafford and feels his team-mate is an unsung hero who played the finest pass of the campaign in Sunday's 2-2 draw with Chelsea.
Ferdinand said: "He is the most underrated and undervalued player in the league. But he is valued highly by each member of our squad, don't worry about that."
Carrick, an £18 million signing from Tottenham in 2006, is approaching 300 appearances for United and is the only automatic choice in sir Alex Ferguson's midfield.
Ferdinand added: "He has stepped up. That comes with experience and responsibility. With Scholesy not playing as many games the responsibility has gone to Michael. He has handled it superbly. You just wish players like that didn't have to go through their careers searching for accolades. You would like to think people would give them out. That hasn't been the case with Michael, which is unfortunate."
Carrick played a superb through-ball to Javier Hernandez when the Mexican opened the scoring against Chelsea in the FA Cup but Ferdinand feels it will soon be forgotten.
He explained: "The ball from Michael Carrick has to be ball of the season but I am sure no-one will talk about it. It will be swept under the carpet and all the talk will be about other players who maybe do a little bit more explosive things than Michael does. He is a little bit laid back. He plays at his own pace. He goes unnoticed."
United, who lost a two-goal lead against Chelsea, now face a replay at Stamford Bridge, but Ferdinand said they ought to have put the tie to bed and cannot complain about tiredness.
He added: "We wouldn't use that as an excuse at all. We should have had that game out of the way in the first-half. We should have been three or four up, then the game would have been dead and buried and we wouldn't be here talking about David de Gea making a great save [from Juan Mata] at the end."
Ferdinand feels United have put the disappointment of their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid behind them and thinks there was no hangover.
He said: "We put Real Madrid to bed. It was a tough pill to swallow the other night. We dusted ourselves down and in the first half showed that we have moved on from it mentally."