Bryan Robson believes Michael Carrick's chances of starting for England are being hampered by Roy Hodgson's desire to field captain Steven Gerrard in a similar role.
Carrick came off the bench during Friday's 4-1 victory against Montenegro for his first international action since the friendly against Brazil in June. Despite being virtually an automatic choice in the United midfield, the Reds' 2013 Players' Player of the Season clearly faces a scrap for a place against Poland on Tuesday.
Hodgson's side require three points from the final Group H fixture at Wembley to qualify for the World Cup finals next year and Carrick may again have to settle for a substitute's spot.
Former England captain Robson, who won 90 caps for his country, accepts that competition is fierce for his fellow North-Easterner from the likes of Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere.
"They are probably a little bit different to Michael," Robson told ManUtd.com. "Michael is one who can sit in there and control the game with his great range of passing but he doesn't score a lot of goals.
"Lampard is an attacking one and Wilshere is also supposed to be attacking, although I'd like to see him score a few more goals.
"Then you've got Gerrard and I think that's the thing Roy Hodgson has got, at the moment, that is not going to go in Michael's favour. Roy wants Gerrard, more or less, to sit and