Michael On Target

Michael Carrick says life is looking a lot rosier for him now he has come through two games in three days - and he is aiming to get into the England squad for the friendly against Paraguay.

Michael missed out on the friendly with Italy as he had just come back from a six week lay off following a groin operation, but reveals:

"The gaffer spoke to Sven and I knew beforehand that I would not be in the squad after only playing one game; but I believe I would have been in if I had been fit, which is nice.

"I'm just happy to be back playing for us and winning, but England is always in the back of your mind coming so close to the World Cup - the hype is really building up."

Michael knows that good form in a claret and blue shirt should see him through to the finals this summer, and the easter programme has given him a huge boost.

"I am pleased just to get through it," he admits, " as it has been a very tough three days for me.

"I'd only played the Man U game, hardly trained after that, and had a few days off to let it settle down again, so I'm just delighted to come through unscathed.

"It was a massive six points for us and we'd have snatched people's hand off for that before Easter; everyone is delighted.

"And we are safe from relegation now so we are looking to push on with Charlton and Tottenham coming up, and if we get results there we will be looking very strong.

"If you come seventh it is like winning the second league so to speak, and I think we have really moved forward in the last year, so everyone can be happy at the moment.

"Maybe at the start of the season we might have been happy with one win, but to come out with six points shows how far we have come.

"There is confidence in the squad now; we have got the feeling that we can go away from home and keep a clean sheet; and we are always going to nick one with the players we have got.

"There is definitely more self-belief in the team with the home form so magnificent."

Michael is particularly pleased for Glenn Roeder, and says:

"Fulham have spent fortunes and our gaffer hasn't had a lot spend, but we have stuck together, worked at it, and reaped our rewards in recent weeks.

"The gaffer did get a lot of stick, especially before Christmas, but he has shown that he has definitely got the potential, and he is fulfilling it - I am pleased for him."

Michael is also quick to defend Joe Cole from the criticism he received last week after his performance against Italy, when he was dispossessed at the expense of a wonder goal.

"It was unfair; I bet there were about four or five of the lads did the same thing but nothing happened as a result," insists Michael.

"Everyone loses the ball, and it still an incredible goal in the top corner."

But Michael is pleased that Joe bounced back with two battling performances to help the Hammers to six points, and adds:

"That is the type of character he is; he has shown his qualities and what he is capable of after getting a bit of stick.

"We haven't really spoken in detail about it; it wasn't on the agenda as the week has been more about getting these points on the board."

Another man for whom the flak has flown recently is Fredi Kanoute; and again, Michael is quick to set the record straight.

"I thought Fredi was brilliant up there against Fulham," he says, "Saturday was odd, more of a grind, but he helped us because