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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League
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By ESPN Staff

Mourinho: Carrick can be key to victory

Jose Mourinho believes Michael Carrick is the key to England beating his Portuguese compatriots in Gelsenkirchen.

The Chelsea manager insists the Tottenham man is 'the link' in Sven-Goran Eriksson's team and affords Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard greater freedom to attack.

Eriksson has kept his team for the quarter-final a closely-guarded secret and it remains to be seen whether he will opt for Carrick or Owen Hargreaves as the holding player in a five-man midfield.

But Mourinho has extolled the virtues of Manchester United target Carrick.

He told the Daily Telegraph: 'England are much more compact and solid with Michael Carrick and this, in my opinion, is the way to play in difficult matches.

'Without Carrick, Lampard and Gerrard have too much responsibility in the building of the first phase, so they are losing the possibility to get into areas where they have greater freedom, areas where they can kill the opposition in the last 25 metres of the pitch.

'Carrick is now the link, but I believe he needs more personality. He must feel he has the status and responsibility he has on the pitch at Tottenham, where he is king of the first phase, so he can give Lampard and Gerrard the freedom.'