Midweek Sport - - SPORT -

MICHAEL CAR­RICK is ex­pect­ing a rough ride at Ful­ham tonight but is just happy not to be play­ing cen­tre-half!

Two years ago, United were thumped 3-0 by the Cot­tagers when an in­jury cri­sis forced Sir Alex Ferguson to use Car­rick and Dar­ren Fletcher at the back.

United head to Craven Cot­tage look­ing to pro­tect the only un­beaten away record in the top four di­vi­sions and keep up the pres­sure on lead­ers City.

And Car­rick is grate­ful to be tak­ing up his usual po­si­tion in cen­tral mid­field.

He said: “I re­mem­ber the game two years ago, though not that well!

“We had no de­fend­ers left so me and Fletch played at cen­tre-half. I’d played there for two or three matches be­fore that and we’d won, but that was prob­a­bly one game too many. It wasn’t a great day for us.

“Ful­ham have had an up-and-down time this sea­son, but they beat QPR 6-0 at their place and have had some other good re­sults,” Car­rick con­tin­ued.

“We know they’re well or­gan­ised and Craven Cot­tage is a tough place to visit, but it’s a good, old-fash­ioned foot­ball ground and we look for­ward to it.”

Ful­ham boss Martin Jol claims he will take on “strong bug­ger” Wayne Rooney with his very own ver­sion of Juan Mata.

Craven Cot­tage play­maker Bryan Ruiz is at last show­ing the form that could jus­tify his £10.6mil­lion price tag when he ar­rived from FC Twente in the sum­mer.

And Jol be­lieves the Costa Rica in­ter­na­tional is a star in the mak­ing, in­sist­ing: “He was a star in Hol­land and we had to pay prob­a­bly three times an av­er­age player.

“So if you want to get him you have to pay a lot. I feel his best po­si­tion is prob­a­bly in­field in a 4-3-3 like Juan Mata, for in­stance.

“In Hol­land he played in a 4-3-3 on the flank. It’s one thing we have to think about in the fu­ture.”

Jol added: “Where Rooney is play­ing now, he is do­ing well be­cause he is a strong bug­ger.

“He is prob­a­bly at his best he is play­ing now, in these gaps, when there are two mid­field play­ers.”

FUL OF JOY: Car­rick on one of his bet­ter days, scor­ing against QPR

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