Micah Richards nearing return to Manchester City's leaky defence

 

Manchester City defender Micah Richards looks like making a timely return from injury to give the team a welcome boost at the back.

The 24-year-old has not played this season after injuring his ankle on Great Britain duty at the Olympics.

So far City have conceded 14 goals in seven matches - 16 in eight games if the Community Shield is counted - and have yet to keep a clean sheet.

But Richards, who had an impressive run in City's Barclays Premier League-winning season, thinks he is almost ready to return.

"It's probably going to take about two more weeks," he said.

"I'm happy with the progress made so far because it was quite a bad one, but I can't wait to get back in among the squad.

"Winning the league was an amazing time for everyone involved at the club, but I guess it wasn't meant to be for me at the start of the season.

"I suppose it's part and parcel of football, injuries come with it.

"I think you just have to take it on the chin and get on with it really."

It has been a frustrating time for Richards as he has had to watch from the sidelines as new players - defenders like Maicon and Matija Nastasic - have come into Roberto Mancini's squad and staked their claim.

But he is not frightened of the competition and is looking forward to the battle of winning his place back.

"It was hard, having been at the Olympics and then having to miss the first four or five games - it has not been easy," he said in an interview in City's official programme.

"It is especially hard when you know there are more players coming in and there's more competition.

"I think you need a big squad. Sometimes last season we had a few injuries and we fell short of the mark and we didn't really get the results we needed.

"The manager's been playing a 3-5-2 system so there's more chance I'm going to play if he goes with that.

"But if he plays 4-4-2 it's going to be me, Zaba (Pablo Zabaleta) and Maicon battling it out for the right-back position.

"I don't mind as I've had competition here all my life. I've been here seven years and I'm still going, so a little bit of competition just makes it a little bit better.

"I just can't wait to get back and get playing to show everyone what I can do all over again."

Although the disappointment of missing out on Euro 2012 with England was tempered somewhat by his call-up to the GB side, Richards remains focused on regaining his place in Roy Hodgson's squad.

"If you look at my form last season, when I was playing, I thought I was as good as any English full-back in the league," he added.

"It is hard for the England manager though. He's got a lot of players to choose from and there are players in that position who are also very good - Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker, who got young player of the season.

"Again there's competition but I've always said when I'm fit and playing I believe I'm as good as anyone in the league.

"It's just up the manager to give me a chance and if he does I'll take it with both hands."

PA

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