Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has confirmed he would consider a return to the international fold.
The Reds man came in for some criticism prior to Euro 2012 when it emerged he had asked not to be considered for selection. It seemed like a bizarre move, especially as he had ended the campaign in top form, as club manager Sir Alex Ferguson often notes. When Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry both sustained injuries that ruled them out of the tournament, leaving new boss Roy Hodgson with Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones to act as deputies to Steven Gerrard and a Scott Parker who was running on empty by the end, Carrick’s absence became even more of a talking point.
Most were unsympathetic to the 31-year-old, believing he should have been willing to make himself available no matter what. Yet Carrick is anxious to point out that when the decision was made, it seemed highly unlikely he would even get in the squad, and with Capello out of the way, if the call came again, he might view it more favourably. “I’ve had no contact from Roy Hodgson, so it would be wrong of me at this stage to make a decision either way,” said Carrick.
“But I would consider it, definitely.” Carrick had been selected just once by Capello since the World Cup, for the August friendly straight afterwards when he was forced to pull out through injury. And having endured a pretty miserable experience in South Africa, when he did not feature for a single minute, the laid-back Geordie felt if he did scrape in, it would be as a bit-part player once more. “I didn’t kick the door down and say: ‘You’ve got to play me or I’ll leave’,” he said. “It wasn’t a case of that at all. It was more that if I wasn’t going to play, I’d rather not go. During the World Cup I never featured and I was never really close to playing. That was a hard time. I just thought if it was going to be the same scenario again, I’d rather let someone else go in my place.”
Capello’s treatment of Carrick was odd. Indeed, the former Tottenham man’s entire international career is something of a conundrum. How can it be that a player deemed good enough to feature on all United’s greatest nights of the last six seasons, who has secured four league titles and started three Champions League finals, can amass the grand total of 22 caps. “It’s a game of opinions and Capello wanted to play a certain way,” said Carrick.
“If that was the road he wanted to go down, it wasn’t for me to argue with that. I just didn’t play, that’s all.” Carrick did not ask for Ferguson’s advice about the situation, although it is a fair bet the Scot would have been in agreement. Confirmation the midfielder feels fully refreshed and ready to lead United’s attempt to claim back the title they lost to Manchester City in such dramatic fashion represents a choice well made.
Carrick is yet to speak with Hodgson – who knows if they will – but, like everyone else, the United man feels there is scope for improvement after the summer performances in Ukraine. “I watched bits of the Euros and thought England were up and down really,” he said. “It was always going to be tough, having a new manager in, and I’m sure they’ll benefit more in the next campaign.”