Midfield Injuries Highlight Michael Carrick's Importance to Manchester United
David Moyes could be forgiven for cowering behind his sofa for the final 25 minutes of England's World Cup qualifier with Montenegro on Friday night.
And while the Manchester United midfielder was a calming influence for Roy Hodgson's side in the closing stages, Moyes will have been wincing every time a Montenegrin player went anywhere near him.
The United manager has seen two of his midfielders, Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley, pick up injuries in the last week.
Fellaini may delay his operation until December, while Moyes will hope Cleverley's injury is not a serious one. But it highlights the lack of depth in United's midfield and just how important Carrick has become at Old Trafford.
If Fellaini and Cleverley were ruled out for any length of time, it would leave Moyes with just Carrick and Anderson to call on.
Phil Jones has played in the centre of midfield before, so have Ryan Giggs and Shinji Kagawa.
It's nothing new for United fans, who have known for some time that their midfield is not strong enough.
And it's a frightening thought to wonder how United would cope if something were to happen to Carrick.
United wouldn't have won the Premier League last season without him.
Moyes will have to endure another nervous night on Tuesday.
Hodgson will likely stick with the team that beat Montenegro so comprehensively when England line up against Poland at Wembley.
But Carrick, so impressive in keeping the ball on Friday, is likely to be called upon at some point.
Even if Carrick, Fellaini and Cleverley report back to Carrington fit to face Southampton at Old Trafford on October 19, this latest scare should convince Moyes of the pressing need when the next transfer window opens.
United have never been big spenders in January.
But to go into the second half of the season without further cover in midfield could prove disastrous to the Red Devils' chances of success this season.
They've been in lucky in recent seasons that Carrick has stayed fit enough to hold a crumbling midfield together.
But at 32 years old, he's becoming more susceptible to niggling injuries, especially if he's expected to play every week.
And, as it stands, United and Moyes just can't do without him.
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