Why Carrick isn't central to Fab's plans
Michael Carrick received a hint as to what he needed to achieve to become an England regular when he made his international debut in 2001. His first cap also gave him a glimpse into the future and the potential frustration that would face him for both club and country. The United midfielder, then plying his trade at West Ham, made his England bow nine years ago when he came on as a sub in a friendly against Mexico at Pride Park. The man he replaced was Paul Scholes. The Reds schemer was a regular and had scored after just three minutes against the Mexicans. It was clear that as an England creator in midfield you also needed goals in your locker to keep ahead of your rivals. Scholes did that with a record of 14 goals in 66 appearances for Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan and Sven-Goran Eriksson. Scholes' scoring contribution was eventually matched by his successor Frank Lampard after the United star retired from international football in 2004. The door opened to replace the Mancunian for Lampard because, as well as his ability to unlock defences and create for team-mates, he had goals to beef up his CV. To date it has been 20 in 78 appearances. It has left Carrick (right) very much in the shadows. Though he has proved he can be a top-class creative midfielder, he just hasn't supplied the goals. Duck Scholes and Lampard's dominance for England in the inventive role has meant Carrick has been reduced to just 22 caps in nine years. He has yet to break his scoring duck for England. It has become clear he is very much down the pecking order at England level when it comes to the starting XI. Of his 22 appearances, only five have come in competitive matches. Three Euro 2008 qualifiers for Steve McClaren, an outing in the 2006 World Cup for Eriksson and a World Cup qualifier under Fabio Capello has been his lot apart from friendlies. When he played in the defeat by Ukraine in Dnipro last October it was his first competitive start for three years. Where Scholes was the man in possession when he first made the squad now it is the Lampard and Steven Gerrard ticket that is blocking Carrick's progress. Last season, even at 35, Scholes overshadowed Carrick in the middle of the park both with goals and level of performance at United. It left him sweating on his inclusion in Capello's final 23 with some predicting he would miss the cut. He made it, but whether he will get the chance to make an impact looks difficult. The fact Capello has only started him in one competitive match so far doesn't augur well for the United man.
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