Richards, a popular player at Manchester City, has been out for almost five months after damaging his cartilage against Swansea in October but is nearing a return.
 
The 24-year-old hopes to comeback to full fitness in time for City's all Manchester affair with United and the FA Cup semi-final against either Chelsea or the Reds just six days later.
 
The Blues' longest-serving player told the club's website: "In the last ten days I’ve been training outside again, doing two days of running and then a recovery day after that.
 
"I had a big fitness session on Tuesday and I’m starting to feel really good again so when the lads are back from international duty, I should be taking part in partial sessions with them as I continue to close in on a return."
 
He thinks the Newcastle match on March 30 will come too soon but is confident he will be back for the following week.
 
Richards added: "Realistically, I’m looking more to the game away to United and then the FA Cup semi-final – maybe against United again to be properly involved again -two relaxing games in a week on the horizon!
 
“I’ll be trying my best to get back into the squad and it will be great just to be back among the lads and getting a feel for everything again.”
 
Having played only four games this term, Richards says this has been the worst season so far in his career and can't wait for the 2013/14 season to start.
 
“I’ve only had one full season injury free but I wouldn’t say I was injury prone at all,” he argued.
 
“I think it’s more to do with the way I go in for headers and tackles – 100% every time - it’s what makes me the player I am and I would find it hard to play any other way.
“I’ve really missed the banter because I’ve been doing virtual office hours of 9 to 5 while I’ve been working my way back to fitness which, I know, are normal hours for most people but for a footballer, we usually are finished for 1pm so I’ve been working really hard to get back."
 
Richards is aware it will be hard to walk straight back into City's first team but is confident he can win his place in their defence back.
 
“I don’t expect to just walk back into the team because the lads have all been playing so well, especially at the back, but I want to finish strongly and then really power into next season after having a full pre-season training behind me. I can’t wait to start playing again," he explained.
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