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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering