Michael Philosophical

Michael Carrick is still hopeful of winning a place in England's World Cup finals squad this summer - but insists his priority is helping the Hammers to a good end of the season.

Michael, who came back from a groin operation bang on time to face Manchester United over a week ago, is still playing his way back to full fitness and as a result wasn't included in either the England under-21 or full squads to play this week.

With West Ham not having a game at the weekend, he didn't have the chance to show Sven-Goran Eriksson that he is on the way back.

But he is determined to finish the season strongly with his club - and then see where fate takes him.

"I suppose if I get to Japan and Korea it will show there is enough time, and if I don't there wasn't long enough - I will just see what happens, but either way I'm just concentrating on getting fit and playing, and if I have got time on my side, then brilliant.

"But there is always next season and I'll not be too worried because all I'm concentrating on is playing. If I'm not selected for the summer I'm only 20 and can't really have too many complaints."

But he is hoping to join three Hammers' team mates in the summer and adds: "If the four of us go it would be unbelievable and then hopefully Frank and Rio will be there as well - it would be a good little group.

"If the lads are playing well towards the end of the season I think we have all got a really good chance but obviously if you are not at your best it passes you by.

"So we'll just have to get our heads down and keep working hard - if the team is playing well we are going to benefit from that."

He acknowledges that facing Manchester United in your comeback game wasn't the easiest of tasks and says: "Especially the way they played. They keep the ball for fun and it makes it hard but I thought we didn't get through it too bad.

"Me and Lomy were coming back for our first game in a while but we were disappointed not to get the points.

"The adrenaline keeps you going for a bit but I felt tired for a while in the second half; then we got the goal back to make it 4-3 and we got another boost again, but the following day I was a bit stiff to say the least."

The groin operation, he feels, was unavoidable, and adds: "I was disappointed but it was one of those things that I had to get on with - it is not worth getting too upset and depressed about.

"I've had it since last season, it has been dragging on too long, and it had to be done - that was the best time to do it, and now, hopefully, I will be strong enough to play well.

"Frank Lampard had the same thing last year, but there wasn't much made of it. With me perhaps it is just because of the World Cup, and obviously I want to be back in contention for it."