He's not there yet. Harry Redknapp most definitely name-checked Kyle Walker in one of his two public discussions of England since the febrile talk of him as the nation's saviour first began. But the text messages which Micah Richards' friends sent him once Fabio Capello quit have proved prescient and he did not disguise his delight yesterday that the deep freeze where England is concerned seems to be over.
Richards, whose knee injury sustained in his club's 4-0 win over Porto on Wednesday evening does not seem to threaten his chances of appearing against the Netherlands, had to pretend not to know whether he had been called up by Stuart Pearce when asked to discuss the issue late on Wednesday night. But he was beaming more broadly than usually – which is going somewhat.
"Obviously I didn't get a chance under Capello. I don't know for what reason, but if I get another one under Stuart Pearce or Harry Redknapp, whoever the manager is, then I'll be delighted," said the Manchester City defender, whose opportunities under Capello were limited to the second half of the 2-1 home defeat to France in November 2010.
"If I go in and have a stinker and he doesn't pick me again then I'll hold my hands up. But if I just get a chance then I'll be happy with that. Every player wants to play for their country, especially when you are in a [club] team that's doing so well, but [Capello] had his favourites, he liked Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker and sometimes you've got to just take it on the chin if the manager fancies someone else. You have to deal with it.
"I said 'never say never', but if I was to get on the plane [to Poland] now I'd be the proudest man. To be frozen out of your international side is hard to take sometimes. I'm just being honest and real, everyone wants to play for their international team."
Capello, who even considered an ageing Gary Neville a more likely candidate for the 2010 World Cup, was simply doubtful that Richards had the consistency to occupy the right-back position – a view the Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who has encouraged him to advance more, flatly disagrees with.
Richards said an explanation had never been forthcoming from the Italian. "No, never," he said. "I always asked the question but I never got an answer. I don't want to moan about it, I just want to kick on because I'm doing well with City... and hopefully if I keep playing well then who knows. Obviously [my mates] were saying I might get a chance now [that Capello has gone.]"
Walker currently appears to be a more serious challenge to Richards than Glen Johnson, a Capello favourite. The Spurs defender's performance at Anfield earlier this month, in front of Capello, was particularly impressive. But Richards has emerged as one of City's strongest assets, albeit with occasional positional flaws evident in October's defeat in Bayern Munich.
Of the knee complaint which caused him trouble against Porto, Richards said: "It's all right. I had an operation [on my knee] two years ago and I tweaked the ligament again, but I should be all right." The 23-year-old said he believed it was in the balance as to whether City's fans would tolerate a return for Carlos Tevez. "It's 50-50 [with the fans]. The best thing he can do is come back, get his head down and if we end up winning the league and he's played a massive part, everyone will forgive him."
1988 Born 24 June, Birmingham
2001 Joins Manchester City as schoolboy from Oldham
2005 Makes City debut under Stuart Pearce, and goes on to impress at centre-back and right-back
2006 Handed England debut by Steve McClaren, first of 12 caps
2011 Wins FA Cup as City beat StokeReuse content