Carrick: Valencia an unsung hero

Michael Carrick has praised Antonio Valencia's athleticism and selflessness as the Ecuadorian continues to impress on the right flank for Manchester United.

Valencia has performed well at full-back in Rafael's absence and set up Wayne Rooney's opener against Liverpool with a wonderful piece of skill last weekend. Carrick feels his team-mate is something of an unsung hero with a steely determination to succeed.

"Antonio is a pure athlete," the midfielder told Inside United. "He is immense. It is the work he does that doesn't get noticed, things like carrying the ball up the pitch for 30 or 40 yards when you have been defending.

"He takes you up the pitch and defenders just back up because they know about his pace. If he can go down the line, then he is pretty hard to catch. He is a great team player and, when you are playing with him, you certainly appreciate that he is on your team."

Valencia, who has passed 200 appearances for the club, may be shy off the field but he is certainly expressing himself under Louis van Gaal.

"He is pretty much the full package," added Carrick. "He is reserved but determined at the same time. He is quiet, he is pleasant and he is polite. He is not somebody who shouts and screams in the changing room but I certainly wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of him.

"He is stubborn and determined. He has got a real desire to win, like everyone at this club."