Michael Carrick
Michael Carrick's return to the Manchester United fold allowed Daley Blind and Wayne Rooney to flourishReuters

Former Chelsea midfielder Ray Wilkins believes that Michael Carrick has become an indispensable part of the England midfield after his cameo against Italy when he bossed the midfield after coming on in the second half.

The midfielder, who is entering his mid thirties, has been plagued by injuries throughout the length of this season. However, finding his feet again in a Manchester United shirt he has helped Louis van Gaal's side secure two crucial victories against Liverpool and Tottenham in recent weeks.

Carrick also held the England midfield together after the Three Lions were being run over by the dynamic midfield coalition of Italy and got them back into the game after going 1-0 down. Andros Townsend's enigmatic strike in the second half levelled the score for England, who otherwise got a reality check after cruising past Lithuania 4-0 in the European qualifiers last week.

Harry Kane made his first start for England but failed to get his name on the scoresheet, while Theo Walcott, starting after over an year, was also anonymous in front of goal. The Arsenal man was removed after the 55-minute mark and Carrick was introduced which turned the tide in England's favour.

"I think Michael has become an essential and integral part of our side. From the professional eye, he is superb. He gives a serenity to the whole side and England looked a whole lot better with him sitting in there," Wilkins told talkSPORT.

"He seems to be coming to the fore and is his own being. I'm delighted for him. I think you've only got to see it from the Manchester United situation – he's looked outstanding," he added.

United are currently fourth in the league table, five points ahead of Liverpool and one and two points behind Arsenal and Manchester City. A win against Aston Villa on Sunday will allow them to close the gap on the reigning Champions and also capitalise on any points dropped by Arsenal or Liverpool as they take each other on at the Emirates.