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Michael Carrick could play center-back against San Marino

Mar 20, 2013, 7:56 PM EDT

Queen's Park Rangers' Mackie challenges Manchester United's Carrick during their English Premier League soccer match in London Reuters

You know things are getting dicey when Roy Hodgson is considering playing Michael Carrick at center-back for England’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

Assuming your love for the England Center-Back Circus isn’t as pants lifting as mine, here’s a quick recap of how we got in this spot. Faced with veterans John Terry and Phil Jagielka still recovering from injury, Roy Hodgson named Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Dawson as the four candidates to lead the back line. Three days later, Ferdinand and Dawson had both dropped out and Steven Caulker and Joleon Lescott were brought in to deputize. On Tuesday, Cahill joined the list of fallen soldiers, prompting Hodgson to call Newcastle’s Steven Taylor into the fold.

The rash of dropouts left the England manager with four pure center-backs – Smalling, Caulker, Lescott and Taylor. So why bring Carrick out of the midfield and into the defense? He’s a fantastic insurance policy. Not only has Carrick occasionally featured in that role for Manchester United but the 31 year old is an expert at sitting in and keeping possession.

At this point Hodgson is still only considering putting Carrick in the back four. The manager is likely to keep the United pass-master in his usual midfield role while using Lescott and Smalling to hold down the fort. These two are the most logical options for England, as Caulker, 21, has only one cap in his young career and Taylor, 27 has yet to step on the field for the Three Lions. Lescott, however, will need to be careful as he was booked last fall against Ukraine so a yellow on Friday will see him suspended for the match in Podgorica.

Potentially lost among all the center-back clamor is one massively important final factor to keep in mind:

We’re talking about San Marino.

  1. jessedinner - Mar 21, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Carrick is a quality center-back and is really only has a problem with his marking on corners.

    • Michael Prindiville - Mar 24, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      Totally agree. He’s just less assuming that England’s typical bruting center-back. Brings a Barcelona-type calm to the back line. Feels like he may be a buddhist, or, at the very least, highly spiritual.

      I love writing creepy Michael Carrick comments.

  2. goonah4life - Mar 21, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Last statement says it all. It’s San Marino, the center backs main responsibilities will be distributing out of the back and getting forward for set-pieces, While Carrick doesn’t excel in the latter he is definitely stronger at the former than any of the other players in contention.

    • Michael Prindiville - Mar 24, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      I once told my friends that I could throw a baseball 90 miles per hour. I cited a ‘big arm’ from four years old throwing the javelin in high school at a decent level. I never took the test, but my friends always make fun of me for even offering that bet because I couldn’t do it. They may have been right. But we’ll never really know, will we?

      But now I have a new bet, and it’s one that you can hold me out to (if it were somehow feasible): if I played against San Marino, I’d definitely score against those dudes.

      Like I said, it’s totally not feasible. But if somehow the USMNT were to schedule a friendly against SM and I played 90 minutes, I’d score. Guaran-freaking-tee it.

      Could you?

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