Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has revealed that Michael Carrick will not start against Newcastle United at St James' Park tomorrow night, because its a gamble to have him in the squad full stop at this stage of his rehabilitation.
Carrick was back in the squad for the first time since mid-January for last weekend's clash with Sunderland, after getting over a calf problem which has dogged his efforts to feature for the Red Devils in 2015.
Van Gaal still doesn't think he's capable of playing more than 20 minutes in a Premier League match though, conceding that he's made an exception to put him in the matchday squad because he's got so much experience of game-management at the very highest level.
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Why take the risk?
Ahead of a clash in Carrick's native North East the Dutchman was asked about his £130,000-a-week midfield linchpin, who was a surprise inclusion on the bench because Luke Shaw, Phil Jones and Victor Valdes all failed fitness tests.
Van Gaal told United's official website: "I think it is too early for Michael Carrick. He trained now in three training sessions with us. Because of the three players I didn't bring with us [against Sunderland], he was in the 18 and I took a risk with that.
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Only use Carrick in an emergency
"As a substitute, you can play 20 minutes, which he can do. He has the experience so I can make an exception. He is also a captain, so I can make an exception but it is not often I do that."
It must strike United fans as slightly strange that Van Gaal is admitting Carrick remains far from full fitness, but could still be used and put at risk if Daley Blind or Ander Herrera need to be replaced against Newcastle.
United have some very difficult games on the horizon and could do with Carrick's nous and ability to link play in next week's FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal in particular, so why take the risk tomorrow night?
Carrick should only be used in an absolute worse-case scenario, because big battles lie ahead that will require all Carrick's big-match experience and Newcastle away probably doesn't fall into that category.
Man United fans, do you think Van Gaal is managing Carrick correctly? Do you see the point in him being included in the squad to face Newcastle if he's not fit to start? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below.
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