Carrick: Friendlies are crucial preparation for World Cup qualifiers

The 31-year-old Manchester United midfielder believes fixtures against Republic of Ireland and Brazil will be vital practice for the Three Lions' next competitive fixtures
England midfielder Michael Carrick believes the upcoming friendlies are the perfect preparation for the World Cup qualifiers the Three Lions will face later this year.

England host Republic of Ireland at Wembley on Wednesday night before playing Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

And Carrick insists the lessons learned during the next two matches will stand the squad in good stead for the crucial qualifiers to come against Moldova and Ukraine in the autumn.

Speaking for an interview in the official matchday programme for the Ireland game, he said: “They’re stand out games. They’re not like normal friendlies, there’s definitely something added and we’re all looking forward to them.

“[Qualification is] what we’re all striving towards. Every time we meet up, every minute we spend together, that’s the end game. That’s the focus.

“We’ve got some really crucial games coming up and we can’t underestimate how important the next two games are.”

Carrick went on to express his excitement at the prospect of playing at the Maracana stadium against next summer's World Cup hosts.

“Obviously the Ireland game at Wembley is a big match, and the Brazil game, I mean, how often do you get to play Brazil?" he said.

“I’ve never been before and the chance to play at the Maracana is unbelievable. I’m really looking forward to it."