Carrick: Germany game a dream

England midfielder Michael Carrick says playing against Germany will be "the stuff of dreams", even though Wednesday's friendly in Berlin comes during a congested English Premier League programme.

Fabio Capello's men have won their first four qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and England don't have a competitive clash again until that campaign resumes against Ukraine at Wembley on 1 April. That has led many observers to question the use of Wednesday's match but for Manchester United's Carrick the issue is not up for debate.

"We are playing for England and that is the stuff of dreams," he said on Monday. "If you ask any player if they want to play in England against Germany they will tell you it is a massive game. It is one I watched when I was growing up and wished that I would one day play in. It is not a hindrance at all, it is a massive honour.

"It is England versus Germany in Berlin at the Olympic Stadium. The players are desperate to be a part of it," added Carrick, who won the last of his 14 caps in a 2-1 defeat against Germany at Wembley last year.

Unusually, Carrick is the only United player in this England squad and is now eager for football after only recently returning after six weeks out with a broken bone in his foot. "It has been fine coming back to the same old faces really," the 27-year-old said. "It's a really positive place. Training this (Monday) morning was really sharp and bright. It's good to be back.

"Once I am here I want to stay here and push for a starting place," he added.

Carrick's path to becoming an England regular has been blocked by the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, both of whom will be missing through injury in Berlin, as well as United team-mate Owen Hargreaves and Gareth Barry. "I don't know if I have to prove anything, it's just a good opportunity," he said. "Germany v England, what a game. It's a huge game at any level."

Carrick, who arrived at Old Trafford in an 18.6 million pounds transfer from Tottenham in 2006, added: "I'd like to think I've improved a lot since I went to United. Winning things is great and the honours are a great achievement but as a player you want to keep improving all the time.

"I certainly think I'm a better player than when I last played for England."