Midfield Injuries Highlight Michael Carrick's Importance to Manchester United

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentOctober 12, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11:  Michael Carrick of England in action during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group H match between England and Montenegro at Wembley Stadium on October 11, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

David Moyes could be forgiven for cowering behind his sofa for the final 25 minutes of England's World Cup qualifier with Montenegro on Friday night.

It was the point in the evening when Michael Carrick replaced Frank Lampard

And while the Manchester United midfielder was a calming influence for Roy Hodgson's side in the closing stages, Moyes will have been wincing every time a Montenegrin player went anywhere near him.

The United manager has seen two of his midfielders, Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley, pick up injuries in the last week.

Fellaini has damaged wrist ligaments and needs an operation, and Cleverley's calf injury ruled him out of England's two games this week.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17:  Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United in action during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen at Old Trafford on September 17, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Mi
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Fellaini may delay his operation until December, while Moyes will hope Cleverley's injury is not a serious one. But it highlights the lack of depth in United's midfield and just how important Carrick has become at Old Trafford. 

If Fellaini and Cleverley were ruled out for any length of time, it would leave Moyes with just Carrick and Anderson to call on. 

Phil Jones has played in the centre of midfield before, so have Ryan Giggs and Shinji Kagawa. 

But with games against Real Sociedad, home and away, and Arsenal in the next month, they would look dangerously short of options. 

It's nothing new for United fans, who have known for some time that their midfield is not strong enough.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05:  Lee Cattermole of Sunderland battles with Tom Cleverley of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at Stadium of Light on October 5, 2013 in Sunderland, England
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

And it's a frightening thought to wonder how United would cope if something were to happen to Carrick.

United wouldn't have won the Premier League last season without him.

Moyes will have to endure another nervous night on Tuesday. 

Hodgson will likely stick with the team that beat Montenegro so comprehensively when England line up against Poland at Wembley.

But Carrick, so impressive in keeping the ball on Friday, is likely to be called upon at some point.

Even if Carrick, Fellaini and Cleverley report back to Carrington fit to face Southampton at Old Trafford on October 19, this latest scare should convince Moyes of the pressing need when the next transfer window opens.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05:  David Moyes, manager of Manchester United shows his frustration at the assistant referee's decision during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on October 5,
Michael Regan/Getty Images

United have never been big spenders in January. 

But to go into the second half of the season without further cover in midfield could prove disastrous to the Red Devils' chances of success this season.

They've been in lucky in recent seasons that Carrick has stayed fit enough to hold a crumbling midfield together.

But at 32 years old, he's becoming more susceptible to niggling injuries, especially if he's expected to play every week.

And, as it stands, United and Moyes just can't do without him.