Michael Carrick asked to play in central defence

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Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has held frank discussions with Michael Carrick and told the 33-year-old he'll be called upon to play as an emergency centre-back when fully fit, according to the Daily Mail.

Carrick's absence has been a source of frustration for United, with the veteran still easing his way back from an ankle problem picked up before the season even started.

United's defensive woes are a far more pressing problem though and Van Gaal is prepared to use Carrick to steady the ship, hoping that a combination of intelligence in possession and experience at the highest level can help mask clear defensive deficiencies at Old Trafford.

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Needs must for struggling United

Van Gaal has been forced to consider a rethink in defence after Sunday's capitulation against Leicester City. The Red Devils conceded four goals in just over 20 minutes at the King Power Stadium as Leicester recorded a famous 5-3 win with an epic comeback.

Tyler Blackett and Jonny Evans paired up at centre-back against Leicester but there's no chance of that partnership repeated against West Ham United this weekend.

Evans is facing a month out with ankle damage and Blackett is suspended following his red card against the Foxes, the latest pair of setbacks in a full-blown defensive injury crisis at the Theatre of Dreams.

Chris Smalling is back in contention but Phil Jones remains sidelined and as a result Van Gaal will carry on tinkering, although the decision is likely to be far from popular.

Carrick tells friends plans are far from ideal

Carrick is finally back in light training and it looks like Van Gaal needs him to get fit quickly, with plans already in place for the playmaker to fill in at centre-back.

Sir Alex Ferguson also got the schemer to play in the same position in emergencies, but the Mail believe that Carrick has told friends that the situation is far from ideal.

Increased competition in central midfield provided by the likes of Daley Blind means Carrick will take on the mantle of a ball-playing centre-back, but it's a stop gap that's unlikely to impress Man United fans after a very shaky start to the season.

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Michael Carrick
Manchester United
Premier League

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