Sat, Jan 14, 2012 - Page 18 News List

United’s Carrick glad he’s off defense

AFP, MANCHESTER, ENGLAND

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick is glad his days in defense appear to be over as the champions prepare to get their English Premier League title bid back on track against Bolton.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have lost their last two league matches, against Blackburn and Newcastle, and trail leaders Manchester City by three points.

A central midfield injury crisis, with Darren Fletcher out for the rest of the season with a bowel condition and Tom Cleverley struggling with an ankle problem, saw Paul Scholes come to Ferguson and offer his services despite retiring in preseason.

Ferguson used the 37-year-old Scholes as a second-half substitute in United’s 3-2 FA Cup win over holders City on Sunday last week and the midfielder is expected to play a pivotal role in their bid to retain the Premier League trophy.

And against relegation-threatened Bolton, United have a great chance to put pressure on City — who don’t play until Monday when they face Wigan.

Carrick was happy to help out in defense against Wigan and Blackburn, but now wants to continue in his more favored midfield role, where he is seen as United’s main playmaker since Scholes’ retirement.

“Changing positions is something you’ve got to deal with,” Carrick said. “It’s a different mindset because you’ve got different duties to fulfill, but that’s just part of the game.”

“I don’t really know to be honest why I have been the one to move to the back, but I don’t mind. I haven’t got a problem with it. It’s about doing what you can for the team,” he added.

United are set to be without Jonny Evans as the Bolton match may come just too soon for the Northern Ireland international, who is struggling with a calf problem.

Fletcher and central defender Nemanja Vidic are out for the season, but better news surrounds Fabio, nearing full fitness after a hamstring injury, with Ferguson still waiting on Cleverley, Michael Owen and Ashley Young who aren’t expected to return until next month.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle has no fresh injury concerns heading into the game, but still has a host of long-term absentees.

One of those is Stuart Holden, whose injury nightmare started in this fixture last season when a tackle from United defender Evans left him with a broken leg and six months on the sidelines.

A follow-up injury means he is set to miss the remainder of this campaign, but the US international is hoping his Bolton teammates can give him something to smile about at Old Trafford on Saturday.

“It will never be an easy game, will it?” Holden said. “But we’ve managed more wins away from home than we have at the Reebok this season, so if we can keep that in mind and put in a solid shift, stay tight, we can come away with some points.”

Gary Cahill may feature for Bolton as his contract negotiations with Chelsea continue to rumble on. Coyle has insisted he will play the defender against United if the deal is not completed.

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