Everyone had expected (the unexpectedly successful) pairing of Frank Lampard and captain Steven Gerrard for the crucial match against Poland, two players who have tailored their coats and tails to suit their age. But the inclusion of Carrick, already 32 years of age, for his 31st cap appears to be a little gamble considering relative success of the (not so) odd couple in the 4-1 scoreline against Montenegro.
Gerrard has been tied into the more sedate 'holding' role, both for Liverpool and England, a role Carrick has excelled quietly in since before his transfer to Manchester United in 2006. And while Gerrard has been gradually improving in this role, to much media clamour, Carrick has mastered it - rather than attempting to dominate parts of a game through explosive running or aggressive passing, dictates the tempo and style of a match with probing passes and switches of play, winning plaudits from his club, fans, envious managers and fellow professionals. Even England coach Gary Neville alludes to Gerrard's lack of 'control' in a heated, yet articulate, argument made between Neville and fellow pundit and ex-player Jamie Carragher. It saw finely veiled dig at Gerrard - possibly being caught up in the moment.