England captain Wayne Rooney has heaped praise on his Manchester United team-mate Michael Carrick for his performances during the latest international break, the Times reports.
The 29-year-old feels his club and country colleague deserves more credit for the part he’s played in helping United to so much success during his time with the club, and admits he is surprised he hasn’t become more of a regular for England.
Carrick impressed in the 4-0 win over Lithuania and the 1-1 draw with Italy as Roy Hodgson’s side continued their strong recent form, and Rooney was glad to see the veteran midfielder play such a key role in both games.
“He’s going to be a big part of the team,” Rooney said. “He was probably more of an easy choice to leave out of the England team when we had big-name players in the squad. But I always felt he should be in the team and certainly in these past two performances he has done himself no harm.
“I felt Michael was the best player on the pitch by a mile. He gave us great composure, he slowed the game down when we needed to and started our attacks really well. I think he is a fantastic player and he has been a big reason why, at United, we have won so many trophies over the last few years. So from myself and his team-mates, he has not been underestimated.”
Carrick, 33, only has 33 caps in total in his career so far, but has often faced strong competition from big names like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and more recently Jack Wilshere, whom Hodgson was quick to point out is still a strong contender for that midfield spot despite his recent absence through injury.
“I have always been an admirer of Michael Carrick and am delighted to see him back,” Hodgson added. “But he has got competition, too, because of Jack Wilshere — you made him our best man in our matches last autumn — whom I am sure will have something to say.
“If both of them are fit, I might have to find some way of tweaking the formations, or just pick one of them, and that would be tough.”