Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted that Michael Carrick could provide emergency cover at the back for the start the new season.

The 31-year-old midfielder stepped into a defensive role against Barcelona in Gothenburg on Wednesday night in the midst of an injury crisis, and may have to do so again with Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all currently unfit.

Ferguson told the club's official website, www.manutd.com: "Smalling is out for three months. Jones got a muscle injury in his back and was sent home from Norway, so the area we're concerned about is centre-back."

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