McClaren to reward City's Richards with surprise call to England squad

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The Manchester City defender Micah Richards will be the one surprise inclusion in Steve McClaren's squad for the friendly against the Netherlands next week as the England manager resists the temptation for wholesale changes in the wake of last month's European Championship reverse in Croatia.

The 18-year-old has made big strides at City since being put in the first team by Stuart Pearce at the start of the year, earning a lucrative new four-year contract in the summer to deter overtures from Arsenal. Further reward will come this evening when he is named in the England senior squad for the first time.

Richards, who was born in Birmingham but grew up in Leeds and joined the City Youth Academy as a schoolboy, will provide youthful competition for Manchester rival Gary Neville at right back but can also provide cover at centre-half. He has made 22 starts in the Premiership for Pearce's team.

McClaren also monitored the form of the Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry in recent weeks but, with Barry injured during Wednesday's Carling Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge, Richards is expected to be the only new face on the midweek trip to Amsterdam.

The Football Association suffered disappointment last night when it was fined £4,222 by Uefa, the European governing body, over the conduct of England supporters prior to the Euro 2008 qualifying defeat in Zagreb, a charge it fiercely contested. Its Croatian counterpart collected a £21,113 punishment for "a serious lack of organisation" at the game on 11 October.

A Uefa statement read: "The Croatian Football Federation have been fined Sfr50,000 for a serious lack of organisation, selling tickets on match day without approval of the police, the English FA or Uefa, the throwing of missiles and the setting off of Bengal lights. The English FA have been fined Sfr10,000 for the improper conduct of their fans at the same match."

The German striker Aaron Hunt was also banned for two matches for gross unsporting conduct after making racist comments to England players in last month's Under-21 European Championship play-off.

McClaren will face another friendly before the European Championship qualifiers recommence against Israel in March after England agreed to play Spain at Old Trafford on 7 February. It will be the first time the two countries have met since England players were racially abused at the Bernabeu in November 2004.

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