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Football | England

Michael Carrick and Phil Jagielka © Reuters Images

Carrick back in favour with England



Three months ago, Michael Carrick was rounded on by England fans for making himself unavailable for the European Championship.

On Wednesday, he was wearing the captain's armband in a friendly win over Italy, speaking positively about his future in the national team and being hailed by some as the answer to England's problems in midfield.

Talk about a change in fortunes.

In the absence of rested pair Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker, Carrick brought composure and an impressive range of passing in England's 2-1 victory in Bern, Switzerland.

One of England's major problems at Euro 2012 was its failure to keep hold of ball - an issue often highlighted at major tournaments over the past decade when compared to the pass-happy midfield units of Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal.

That's something new coach Roy Hodgson is looking to address, so Carrick could find himself called upon when the qualifying for the 2014 World Cup starts next month.

"There is a new regime, a new manager, and things are looking great and I'd like to be part of the World Cup qualification campaign," a revitalized Carrick said Thursday.

"Now I am happy, and I am more than happy to be here. I spoke with the manager and what has gone on in the past, we have drawn a line under that."

Carrick was a dependable regular for Manchester United last season, but his last appearance for England before Wednesday had come in May 2010.

He made himself unavailable for England at the start of 2012 and made it known to Hodgson that he was unwilling to travel to Poland and Ukraine for the Euros if he wasn't going to be involved.

"That was a decision I made - and I stand by that - but, like I said, I've drawn a line under that now," Carrick said.

If he is to keep his place in the team for the World Cup qualifiers, Carrick will likely be up against Scott Parker for the spot as England's midfield anchorman.

Parker had a decent Euro 2012, forming a good partnership with captain Gerrard as England progressed through to the quarterfinals before losing on penalties to Italy, but isn't as efficient in possession as Carrick.

The United player combined well with Frank Lampard and Tom Cleverley in central midfield against Italy and that may sway Hodgson's thinking when he chooses his side for qualifying matches against Moldova and Ukraine in the space of four days in September.

"It is not about systems, it is more about players," Hodgson said. "The three guys in midfield passed the ball and controlled the ball well and the wide players did well too.

"It was not much different to the Euros but perhaps we showed more composure on ball and maybe passed it a bit better."

Carrick even wore the captain's armband for 20 minutes against the Italians after Lampard was substituted.

"It was special to me to wear the jersey after such a long time but having the armband made it really special."

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