Manchester City's Micah Richards has hailed teammate Pablo Zabaleta, claiming that he has been the club's player of the year.

Richards, who has endured a difficult season with injuries believes, the man who replaced him at right-back deserves all the plaudits that come his way.

The Argentine has nailed down the position in his absence and has become a stalwart at the Etihad Stadium.

The former Espanyol player is a fans' favourite in the north-west, and has netted two goals this year as well as captaining the side in the absence of Vincent Kompany. 

However, the England international is rueful of the amount of football he has missed and cannot help feeling jealous of the tenacious defender, who has been a consistent performer all throughout the season.

The 24-year-old is targeting a comeback in the Manchester derby on Monday night, as he hopes to put his frustration behind him and challenge Zabaleta for a starting berth.

"I've watched the lads this season and Zabaleta has been my player of the season so far," he said according to Sky Sports.

"He's been incredible and deserves all the plaudits he's been getting. But I can't help thinking I wish it was me.

"Last season, both Zabaleta and me were playing well so both of us had runs in the team.

"Now, because he's had a good run in the side, he's proved he's one of the best defenders around and has fantastic commitment and desire. I think we're very similar in that way.

"If I'd been fit, I think I'd have had a similarly successful season, and that's where the frustration kicks in."

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