Richards keen to make senior England return after impressive U-21 display

Micah Richards has targeted a return to the England senior squad after a commanding performance for the Under-21 side which will have caught the eye of Fabio Capello.

The Manchester City defender found the net as Stuart Pearce's side recorded a 2-1 friendly win over Slovenia at the KC Stadium on Tuesday evening. But it was the display of Richards' all-round ability which will ensure that he will not be kept out of the Italian coach's plans for too long.

As well as getting his name on the scoresheet, and being solid in defence, Richards showed the kind of maturity that both Capello and Pearce have demanded when moving between the respective squads.

"I thought I did OK and obviously got man of the match but that wasn't important – it was about the team," Richards said. "He [Pearce] told me to treat this game like any other game and get the win, which we did, and that is all that mattered in the end. But it's definitely my aim to be in the seniors – that's where I want to be – hopefully I can take my form out of tonight and Mr Capello was watching and has seen what I can do.

"Last season I picked up a knee injury which was a bit frustrating but I am back now with the Under-21s and hopefully I can do all I can to push back up to the seniors. I always feel like I am knocking on the door but last year I got injured and that affected me."

Richards continued: "He [Capello] has probably not seen the best of me yet – I don't think anyone has – so all I can do now is work hard and give 100 per cent for my club and try to get back in the seniors.

"I thought I got off to a good start last season winning player of the month and then I averaged out a bit. This season I'll be giving 100 per cent and make sure I play the best I can in every game and hopefully I'll be straight back in there. It is a big year for me. As long as I can stay injury-free there is nothing stopping me from doing well this season and pushing back into that England squad."

Pearce has encouraged Richards to set himself a goals target for the season after a first half against Slovenia where he could have had a hat-trick. And the defender said he is keen to work on all aspects of his game to enhance his development.

"I'm keen to improve my all-round game which will make me a better player," he said. "We practise some of those things in training and I try to do the best I can. I don't just want to work on the defensive side of my game, I want to work on the attacking side as well.

"I've got a pretty good leap, I attack the ball aggressively. It's one of the strong assets to my game. I want to play my football and play to the best of my ability, to go out there and enjoy it."

John Carew, meanwhile, is backing his Aston Villa team-mates Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young to become big names for England despite being snubbed by Fabio Capello for last night's friendly against the Czech Republic.

Agbonlahor and Young were both part of the England squad at various stages last season with the latter making a couple of substitute appearances for his country.

And Carew sees the attacking duo's exclusion from the final warm-up game before the World Cup qualifiers get under way against Andorra and Croatia next month as a temporary setback.

The Norway international said: "I can definitely see Gabby and Ashley breaking into the England side this season. They can be as good as they want.

"They have great potential. They have everything in front of them. They are both young with fantastic skills and they can both succeed and go a long way in the game.

"It is the start of a new era for England and there is a good generation of players coming through. I think they will be very strong in the years to come – and Gabby and Ashley can be part of that."

Carew, who signed a new contract along with Agbonlahor last week, said: "The good thing is the players want to learn. Gabby has improved so much in just my time here [since January 2007] and I am sure he will continue to get even better.

"He can be as good as he wants to be and there is definitely more to come from him. I also think all the young players at Villa will reap the benefits of playing in Europe this season.

"It's a different way of playing compared to the domestic league, different challenges, and will be of great experience for the boys which will stand them in good stead."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future