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"This year there are still big teams left in it. Certain years in the past, there have been a few lesser teams. This competition is very strong. Come the quarter-finals you take it seriously, of course you do. We are not taking Crystal Palace lightly."

– Michael Carrick

29/11/2011 09:29, Report by Adam Marshall
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Carrick aims for Cup lift

Michael Carrick has outlined how the Carling Cup can provide a timely lift ahead of the season run-in.

The Reds lifted the trophy in 2009 and 2010 and the midfielder feels success in the competition - the final will be played on Sunday 26 February at Wembley - provides an injection of confidence in the lead up to the business end of the season.

Carrick, in superb form at the moment, also feels the tournament is the perfect testing ground for up-and-coming talents to bed in alongside the senior figures.

"There is no harm in getting into the habit of winning games, no matter what competition it's in," the former Spurs man stressed. "Some people have written the competition off as not being so important, but lifting that trophy in February gives you a great feeling. It gives you a lot of belief going into the end of the season, not just as players but as a club. If you are winning trophies, it gives everyone a boost. It's something we're not taking lightly as it's an opportunity to get more silverware.

"This year there are still big teams left in it. Certain years in the past, there have been a few lesser teams. This competition is very strong. Come the quarter-finals you take it seriously, of course you do. We are not taking Crystal Palace lightly. It is just an opportunity to be successful and keep our run going."

Several members of last season's FA Youth Cup-winning side are expected to be in the squad again after featuring in the wins at Leeds and Aldershot in previous rounds.

"This is a great place to learn your trade," insisted Carrick. "The manager is the best at guiding young players through when he sees they are

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