Belfast Telegraph

Carrick happy to fill the void

Michael Carrick is happy to solve Manchester United's injury crisis by playing at centre-back in the coming weeks.

Carrick made his first appearance of the season on Sunday when he came off the bench to replace injured centre-back Marcos Rojo in United's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City.

United expect Rojo, who dislocated his left shoulder sliding in for a tackle, to be out for some time which is a blow to Louis van Gaal as he is already short of options at centre-half.

The United manager is set to be without Phil Jones for some time as the England centre-back is suffering from shin splints - his second injury of the season.

Jonny Evans has not played for over six weeks because of an ankle injury while Chris Smalling is serving a one-match ban for his careless dismissal for two petty fouls on Sunday.

Carrick has played at centre-back on occasions throughout his career and he would have no problem starting there in Saturday's game against Crystal Palace.

"If I need to play there then fine I have not had a lot of football recently so I will play anywhere," said Carrick, who suffered a serious ankle injury just before United embarked on their pre-season tour of the United States of America.

"It's not somewhere I have played an awful lot of games.

"I have had spells of playing there over the years, playing two or three or four games in a season.

"But I don't mind. I will play anywhere."

Rojo raised hopes of a speedy recovery on Monday when he tried to play down the extent of the injury on Twitter.

"Gracias a todos por los mensajes. Gracias a dios fue solo un mal momento/ thank you all for your messages. thank god it was nothing," The Argentinian wrote.

United believe Rojo, who speaks only limited English as he has only been in the country for two months, made something of a mistake in his translation of the Spanish part of his tweet.

"Solo un mal momento" translates as "only a bad moment", rather than "nothing", and the club believe the defender's injury is serious.

Rojo was discharged from hospital on Sunday evening and the club have confirmed that the defender had suffered a dislocation.

Medical estimates of a recovery time from such an injury range from six weeks to three months.

in 2011 Rojo's team-mate Rafael was out for three and a half months with a dislocated shoulder.

That means Van Gaal is likely to field Carrick as a centre-half alongside either Tyler Blackett or Paddy McNair this weekend.

One thing in Van Gaal's favour is that behind his makeshift back four he will be able to field arguably the most in-form goalkeeper in the top flight.

David de Gea pulled off some stunning saves to deny Everton in United's last game at Old Trafford and he once again proved his worth against City, who could have scored many more had it not been for the Spanish stopper.

De Gea has been very pleased with his recent performances, but he would prefer it if United were winning as well.

"My form is very good. I am playing the best football of my career and I want it to continue, but the most important thing is that we all play well as a team," De Gea told Press Association Sport after the derby defeat.

"The next match is at home and we will train hard all this week to make sure we get all three points."

Van Gaal will not have enjoyed looking at the Premier League table on Sunday night, when United dropped to 10th.

Despite his enthusiasm and self-confidence, the fact remains that Van Gaal has endured a worse start to his reign than David Moyes, who was sacked after 10 months.

But Wayne Rooney retains supreme faith in the man who appointed him United captain in the summer.

Rooney told MUTV: "We're working on different things, which a lot of us haven't been used to. We're certainly heading in the right direction."

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