Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick could be used by manager Louis van Gaal as an emergency centre-back in an attempt to address the team's defensive issues, according to reports.

The 33-year-old is yet to make an appearance for United this season after undergoing ankle surgery in July.

Even though the England international is not expected to return to action until next month, The Daily Mail claimed he was already training and Van Gaal had told him about the possibility of playing in the team's backline this season.

United have had a disappointed start to the campaign, securing only five points from their first five Premier League games, while being also knocked out from the League Cup after a humiliating 4-0 defeat against MK Dons.

While Van Gaal has excellent attacking options in Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, many pundits suggest United's problems are linked to a weak defence.

United have already conceded eight Premier League goals in five games, including five in their latest defeat against Leicester City on Sunday 21 September.

Having lost centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and left-back Patrice Evra in the summer, Van Gaal has struggled to forge a solid backline since the start of the season, despite tinkering with 3-4-3 and 4-4-2 formations.

And his defensive crisis could be about to get worse amid reports Jonny Evans will miss a month of action due to an ankle injury.

The Dutch manager is already without Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, while Tyler Blackett will be unavailable for the game against West Ham United on Saturday 27 September after being sent off against Leicester. He may have to use Marcos Rojo as a centre-back this weekend.