Richards set to make early return from knee operation

The Manchester City defender Micah Richards has vowed to be "back with a bang" as he plans a return to action early next month.

Richards was forced to undergo surgery to repair cartilage damage to his right knee at the end of last month, and was told he would be out for around six weeks. However, the 20-year-old insists he is making swift progress and believes he could be back quicker than anticipated.

"I had the operation nearly two weeks ago and things are looking good. Hopefully, I could be back even sooner than the six weeks," Richards said. "The operation was something that couldn't be avoided. I played in the derby at Old Trafford [a 2-1 win on 10 February] with it hurting.

"In the second half I picked up an ankle knock as well, so I was a wreck by the end of the game. After the Everton match [a 2-0 defeat on 25 February] the knee was swollen like a balloon and I couldn't carry on.

"The medical advice was to get it done before the end of the season. It is for the best in the long term. I hate missing games, especially at such a crucial time, but I will be giving 100 per cent to be fit as soon as I can. I will be back, and back with a bang."

Earlier last month Richards ended intense speculation regarding his future by signing a new five-and-a-half-year contract at the club. The England international maintains, though, all the talk was "a big fuss for nothing" as he had no intention of walking away from City. "The talk about my contract had become quite annoying to be honest," Richards added.

"It wasn't as though I was in the last year of my old deal. I still had two and a half years to go and some players only sign for that amount of time. Now I am glad it is all over, the deal has been signed. There has only been one place I wanted to be, and that's City."