06/09/2012 14:30, Report by Nick Coppack
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Carrick: Best years ahead

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick believes his best football is still to come.

The 31-year-old has long been an integral part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s plans and hopes he can continue to play at the top level for a number of years.

“Hopefully I’m a better player now than I was a couple of years ago,” he told reporters.

“I feel I have improved and I’m hoping to still improve. I’ve just turned 31 and the peak time in players’ careers seems to be a little bit later so hopefully that carries on and I’ve still got the best years ahead of me.”

Carrick’s comments came from inside the England camp in Moldova, where the Three Lions are preparing for Friday night's World Cup qualifier and the midfielder’s personal international renaissance continues. Last month Carrick pulled on an England shirt for the first time in more than two years to finally bring to an end a frustrating chapter in what has otherwise been a career strewn with highlights and silverware .

After suffering the ignominy of travelling to the 2010 World Cup and never setting foot on the pitch, Carrick was then overlooked entirely by Roy Hodgson for this summer’s European Championship, a decision that appeared to signal the end of his international career.

Hodgson, however, claimed it had all been a big misunderstanding. The England boss believed Carrick had asked not to be selected; the player insists that was never the case.

With everybody now clear on where they stand, Michael again finds himself at the heart of England’s plans ahead of a major tournament, and at a time when Hodgson has dismissed talk he’s planning to “freshen up” his squad by getting rid of ageing stars.

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