Carrick looking for fair chance
Michael Carrick does not expect to be guaranteed an England place - he just wants a fair chance.
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Staggeringly, Carrick is in line to play only the sixth competitive international of his entire career - and his first meaningful one since October 2006 - when the Three Lions open their World Cup qualifying campaign in Moldova tomorrow.
It is a quite amazing statistic for a player whose club career boasts four Premier League title wins and three Champions League final appearances.
And it could easily have been the full story too given Carrick informed the FA of his decision not to make himself available for Euro 2012 in January, which was restated twice more prior to the departure for Poland and Ukraine in June.
With midfield resources stretched to snapping point, it took the involvement of Carrick's former Manchester United team-mate and current England assistant boss Gary Neville to change the 31-year-old's mind.
Carrick stamped his class on last month's friendly win over Italy in Berne, and now hopes to be involved at the 10,000-capacity Zimbru Stadium.
And, as he is anxious to point out, hope, rather than expect, is the key word.
"I am not different or any more special than the rest of the lads," said Carrick.
"I don't need assurances or guarantees of any kind, just a fair chance.
"If I am playing well then I want to get a chance. If I'm not, then fair enough.
"Anyone who knows me knows my ego is not big enough to think I should be here and expect to play.
"That's the manager's choice. It's just up to me to stay in the squad for starters and then hopefully push to get a place in the team."
Carrick's international career is quite an eye-opener.
He made his debut as a 19-year-old under Sven-Goran Eriksson against Mexico in 2001 but did not make a competitive appearance for a further five years when he started against Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup.
After sitting out the home game against Andorra, Carrick went on to be involved in England's next three Euro 2008 qualifiers under Steve McClaren, only to drift back towards being a squad man.
Clearly though, Fabio Capello was not a fan.
During the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, his only appearance was in Dnipro, in October 2009, when a place in South Africa had already been achieved.
Carrick subsequently went to the finals but was not called upon for a single minute and felt completely frozen out due to Capello's autocratic style.
"I hadn't played for so long," he said.
"It's not so much that you fall out of love its just that it isn't there any more.
"I had this sort of scenario when I was younger - I was in the squad from an early age and didn't play for a couple of years.
"When you are taken away from it you realise how special it is and what it means to be there."
In an era where Barcelona's tiki-taka style has seen them labelled as the best club side ever, where managers such as Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez can become hot property for implementing the same passing philosophies at a lower level, and Andrea Pirlo can pick England apart in a Euro 2012 quarter-final, Carrick's approach is back in vogue.
Like long-time Manchester United team-mate Paul Scholes, he does not give the ball away very often.
Yet, when he selects his team on Friday, Roy Hodgson cannot be entirely certain of offering Carrick a place.
With Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll and Ashley Young all missing, thought must be given about how best to provide support for Danny Welbeck, who is set to start as a lone striker.
If the call goes in favour of Tom Cleverley, who also did well in Berne, Carrick's place is at risk.
"By no means am I expecting to start the game," said Carrick.
"That Italy game was a good night and I was happy with my performance but that doesn't guarantee you the next game.
"Recently, people were questioning the strength in depth but we have shown we have a big group of players who can step up."