Carrick hails in-form Fletcher

Red Devils ace feels team-mate is one of the best in the league

Carrick: Impressed by Fletcher

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Michael Carrick believes fellow midfielder Darren Fletcher is now among the best players in his position in the Premier League.

The Scotland international was considered no more than a fringe player at Old Trafford just over two seasons ago but now finds himself as one of the teams most influential figureheads.

The 26-year-old's elevation to vital first-teamer was perhaps most strongly highlighted in the UEFA Champions League final against Barcelona last May when a United side - minus a suspended Fletcher - were outgunned and out passed in midfield as the Spaniards cruised to a 2-0 win.

Fletcher continued his good form since returning from injury earlier this month with a stunning opening goal against Everton and Carrick, who starred alongside the Scot against the Toffees, recognises his team-mate's ever increasing influence.

"Darren is one of the best midfielders around at the moment," he said.

"His performances are at the highest level and it is great to play alongside him. He really is on top of his game."

Chipping in

Carrick also found himself on the scoresheet on Saturday alongside Antonio Valencia and the England international feels the midfield need to chip in with more goals to help the strikers carry the goalscoring burden left by Cristiano Ronaldo.

"The goals Ronaldo scored were extraordinary for a wide man," he added. "It's obvious that we cannot rely on the strikers every week.

"We have all chipped in and we need to do it more often. As long as someone is scoring it is not an issue. It is winning games that matter."

Meanwhile Fletcher, who admitted the strike was one of the best of his career, has backed Valencia, with three goals in 18 appearances this season, to now find the net on a more consistent basis.

"Antonio is a top-class player," he stated. "He is getting used to the way we play and he was in the groove again.

"He is a really strong physical lad who can get goals. We have seen that in training and I believe he is going to get a lot for Manchester United."