Richards must raise game, says Hughes

City manager admits his right-back's career has stalled after bright start

Mark Hughes has conceded that Micah Richards has plateaued as a player and currently has little chance of forcing his way into Fabio Capello's plans for South Africa next summer.

Richards' bulldozing runs in the No 2 shirt of England in the Euro 2008 qualifier against Israel at Wembley a little over two years ago seemed to have carved him out as Gary Neville's permanent successor but Richards has played only five times since for the national team, has not featured in Fabio Capello's plans and after Michael Owen tormented him in last month's Manchester derby he lost out to Pablo Zabaleta in the City right-back role.

Richards has another chance to demonstrate to Hughes against Fulham at Eastlands tomorrow that the question marks over his attitude in training and his struggle with positioning are behind him. Zabaleta is suspended after last Sunday's dismissal at Wigan Athletic but Hughes accepts that Richards is a distance short of fulfilling that early rich potential.

The manager suggested the 21-year-old has perhaps suffered from bursting onto the scene too soon and struggling to deal with the attendant acclaim. "I think at times people forget how young he is and he's still learning his trade," Hughes said. "He had a lot of success very early on in his career and sometimes for young players they feel that's how it's going to be all the time. There is always going to be a time when that judgment of you as a player plateaus out and people start looking at you with a more critical eye. That's what has happened to Micah at the moment, and obviously the profile of the club is higher as well so any perceived criticism of Micah gets highlighted a bit more. He is nowhere near where we know he can be in terms of realising that potential. It's a case of working with him and making sure he gets better."

It is a point that Sven Goran Eriksson also made about Richards though Hughes, with his more pronounced demand for a work ethic, has felt more frustrations with Richards who, for a time last season at least, seemed too concerned with spending time in the Carrington weights room.

Hughes acknowledged that Richards sometimes needs a word in his ear when his training lacks intensity. "If he's not running around on a daily basis then he gets reminded of that, but he's no different from anybody else in that respect." Though Glen Johnson, the current occupant of the England right-back berth, is by no means the complete defender either, Hughes believes the position is his for the World Cup. "It's difficult [for Micah] because it seems that the England squad, barring a few surprises at the end, looks pretty much set in stone," he said.

Hughes hopes to have his captain Kolo Touré back for tomorrow. Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy all returned to full training yesterday after knocks and Hughes hopes to have them all available.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
Drinking - often heavily - is a running theme throughout HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living