You know things are getting dicey when Roy Hodgson is considering playing Michael Carrick at center-back for England’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino.
Assuming your love for the England Center-Back Circus isn’t as pants lifting as mine, here’s a quick recap of how we got in this spot. Faced with veterans John Terry and Phil Jagielka still recovering from injury, Roy Hodgson named Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Dawson as the four candidates to lead the back line. Three days later, Ferdinand and Dawson had both dropped out and Steven Caulker and Joleon Lescott were brought in to deputize. On Tuesday, Cahill joined the list of fallen soldiers, prompting Hodgson to call Newcastle’s Steven Taylor into the fold.
The rash of dropouts left the England manager with four pure center-backs – Smalling, Caulker, Lescott and Taylor. So why bring Carrick out of the midfield and into the defense? He’s a fantastic insurance policy. Not only has Carrick occasionally featured in that role for Manchester United but the 31 year old is an expert at sitting in and keeping possession.
At this point Hodgson is still only considering putting Carrick in the back four. The manager is likely to keep the United pass-master in his usual midfield role while using Lescott and Smalling to hold down the fort. These two are the most logical options for England, as Caulker, 21, has only one cap in his young career and Taylor, 27 has yet to step on the field for the Three Lions. Lescott, however, will need to be careful as he was booked last fall against Ukraine so a yellow on Friday will see him suspended for the match in Podgorica.
Potentially lost among all the center-back clamor is one massively important final factor to keep in mind:
We’re talking about San Marino.