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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 06:12 GMT 07:12 UK
World Cup Scouting - Michael Carrick
Sven-Goran ErikssonMichael CarrickSupportersMartin JolShould Michael Carrick go to Germany?

By Jonathan Stevenson

On 8 May, Sven-Goran Eriksson will name the provisional squad of players that he believes can win the World Cup for England.

Seven days later that list becomes the final 23 that will board the plane to Germany and carry the hopes of a nation.

With time running out for the players to prove their worth, BBC Sport checked out Tottenham's rapidly-maturing midfielder Michael Carrick.

So should the 24-year-old be a part of England's plans as they aim to end a 40-year wait for a trophy?

ENGLAND HISTORY

Carrick received his first call-up at the tender age of 19, plucked from the Under-21 side for Eriksson's first game in charge of the national team.

MICHAEL CARRICK FACTFILE
Spurs and England midfielder Michael Carrick
Born: 28/07/81, Wallsend
Clubs: West Ham, Spurs
Career games: 240
Career goals: 10
England caps: 5
England goals: 0

He failed to get on during that match against Spain in February 2001, but did make his debut three months later as a second half substitute for David Beckham in a 4-0 friendly romp over Mexico.

When he played 43 minutes of the friendly with Holland in August it looked as though Carrick was set for a long career in international football.

But he had to wait another four years to make his first England start as West Ham's relegation from the Premiership and some indifferent form kept him out of the spotlight and the reckoning.

Carrick's 3.5m move to Spurs in 2004 propelled him back into the limelight and last May he played a full 90 minutes in the friendlies against USA and Colombia.

Any doubts that Carrick was firmly in Eriksson's thoughts for the World Cup were dispelled when he started their last game, a 2-1 friendly win over Uruguay.

Afterwards, Eriksson was so pleased with his display he said he would consider starting with Carrick instead of either Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard if the situation called for it.

MICHAEL CARRICK - THE FORM GUIDE

Carrick has been in fabulous form recently for Spurs. It is no coincidence that the White Hart Lane club are enjoying their best season for years with the in-form Geordie driving them forward from midfield.

His performance in the recent derby game against Arsenal was nothing short of stunning and a sensational solo run before the break desperately deserved a goal that would have ranked among the Premiership's all-time greats.

Michael Carrick celebrates Spurs' winner against Bolton with Aaron Lennon
Carrick (l) teed up Lennon for Spurs' winner against Bolton

Against Bolton, Carrick spent most of his time in the holding midfield role that could see him earn a starting spot for England.

As Bolton bombarded Spurs with their own brand of direct football, Carrick had to abandon his playmaking and concentrate on mostly defensive duties, sitting just in front of the back four and behind a midfield three.

He won a host of headers as the visitors tested Spurs' aerial ability and protected his defenders manfully against wave after wave of Bolton attack.

His passing was perhaps a touch short of the class you normally expect from Carrick, but his was a rare positive performance on a nervous day for Tottenham.

And when they needed inspiration, they needed to look no further than Carrick.

He drove the side forward when they desperately sought respite and he created the match-winning moment, too.

A typically incisive run and intelligent pass set up Aaron Lennon, and the young winger made no mistake with a fine finish into the far corner.

WHAT THE SUPPORTERS THINK

Michael Carrick seems to be improving almost by the game this season. He has controlled the midfield in a number of our games and his range of passing is up there with the likes of Gerrard and Lampard. His inclusion in the squad for Germany is surely a must.
DangerousBrian, via 606 messageboards

Carrick did his England hopes no harm at all with this performance, he is getting so much better at pushing us on when we need him to. He is the answer to England's lack of balance - not one Spurs fan would say choose Ledley King in midfield instead.
Michael, Tottenham fan

He's so cool under pressure, it's almost like he invites it, he wants it, amazing. Should he be in the England squad? Absolutely.
Hfxspur, via 606 messageboards

Rooney is injured and there will never be a solution to that, but the next best thing involves Carrick starting. If we play him as a holding midfield, he can pass the ball superbly as well as supplying the midfielders and a solitary striker.
Neds, via 606 messageboards

He's a fine player, no doubt, but he's not in the Gerrard or Lampard class and isn't ready to start at international level yet. I'd like to see him in the Champions League next season though, he'll improve again.
Tom, Tottenham fan

Carrick has the lot. His long and short passing is accurate and incisive; he has excellent vision and anticipation which enable him to disrupt and create to equally high standards...he should be on that plane.
H.T.B.PI.E.I.YT.O.H.S, via 606 messageboards

WHAT THE GAFFER THINKS

Unsurprisingly, Jol has championed Carrick's England cause and has no doubts his midfield general is good enough to play on the world stage this summer.

After another sublime performance, this time against Liverpool in September, Jol said Carrick was ready for a starting spot in Eriksson's side.

"Michael mastered the entire midfield and I think he deserves a place in the England side," said Jol.

"He's doing very well for us and has always been appreciated as a big talent.

"Maybe it's better to keep his feet on the ground rather than praising him all the time, but he always plays such a big part for us."

THE VERDICT

Carrick's name should be inked on to Sven-Goran Eriksson's list of the 23 players who will travel to Germany to try and win the World Cup for England.

There is little doubt that the Spurs midfielder has blossomed since his move to White Hart Lane and he has been instrumental in their rise up the Premiership table.

CARRICK'S COMPETITION
Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Jermaine Jenas, Owen Hargreaves, Ledley King, Kevin Nolan

Not only does he have a wonderful range of passing but has proved he can compete in the air and in the tackle and he has an uncanny ability to create himself a yard of space in the 100mph frenzy of English football.

Carrick's one fault is that he does not get his name on the scoresheet often enough and it is a facet of his game he must work on.

With Wayne Rooney a major doubt for the World Cup, goals from midfield are even more crucial to Eriksson and for this reason Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard - with 42 goals between them this term - must both start.

But Carrick may yet get the nod if Gerrard is played in a more advanced role to cope with Rooney's absence.

If there is room for one more central midfielder in the Swede's starting XI, he must look no further than Carrick.




SEE ALSO
Tottenham 1-0 Bolton
30 Apr 06 |  Premiership
Scouting for England
20 Apr 06 |  World Cup 2006


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