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By ESPN Staff

Carrick impressed by new crop of United stars

Michael Carrick has welcomed the added competition provided by Manchester United's emerging young stars.

Although a Carling Cup defeat to Coventry led to a crisis of confidence in the youngsters Sir Alex Ferguson had placed great faith in to maintain the Red Devils tradition of nurturing their own, some have emerged from the debacle to re-establish themselves as genuine first-team prospects.

At £17million, Brazilian midfielder Anderson was always likely to get a second chance to impress but in addition to the teenage arrival from Porto, defensive duo Gerard Pique and Danny Simpson have been singled out for special praise recently.

And Carrick does not believe it is possible to underestimate what a learning experience the hungry, young heroes of the future are going through just now.

'It wasn't that long ago I was in the same position, trying to establish myself,' he said.

'I have seen these boys in training for the last year or so and I know how much quality they have got.

'It is just a matter of being patient and making sure you show your potential when you do get the chance.

'There is no better place to learn your trade than here. I am sure they will improve bundles just by having the opportunity to train with some of the lads we have here.'

Surprisingly overlooked by Steve McClaren for England duty this week, Carrick is spending a relatively lonely week at United's Carrington training complex along with veteran winger Ryan Giggs, now retired from international duty, and Rio Ferdinand, who is suspended for next Wednesday's Croatia clash.

Paul Scholes would have been there as well had it not been for the knee injury which has sidelined him for four weeks.

However, considering the players who have left for international commitments, it is little wonder Carrick endorses Ferguson's claim this is the best squad of his entire time as United boss.

Considering the first great side Ferguson created landed the domestic double in 1994 and 1996 and the second completed a unique treble in 1999, it was some statement.

Carrick cannot really offer an objective perspective given he has only been at United just over a season following his #18million move from Tottenham.

However, as he casts his eye across Europe's finest, and the clubs United will have to overcome if they are to land a cherished third Champions League trophy, Carrick cannot see a group of players better than the ones he plays with.

'It is one of the strongest squads in Europe,' said the Wallsend-born player.

'The cover we have in every position is amazing. We are certainly as good as anyone in that sense, if not better.'