Two seasons ago, Manchester City defender Micah Richard had the world at his feet.
He was 23 and a regular starter in the title winning side. Come the next season and Richards made just seven appearances due to being ridiculed by injury or not being able to force himself into the side.
He's now shaken off the injury and is again finding it difficult to gain himself a place in the starting side.
In City's latest game against Everton, Richards was an unused substitute. Manager Manuel Pellegreni turned to centre-back Matija Nastasic instead of the England international when captain Vincent Kompany limped off. This was very much the sign that Richards was a fringe player in Pellegrini's plans.
There was a glimpse of daylight for the powerful defender however. He started in the 5-0 League Cup third round thrashing of Wigan, where he showed his old self and what he's capable of. Richards was then rewarded a week later with another start in City's Champions League game against Bayern Munich.
Here, the England international was tormented by one of Europe's elite, Frank Ribery. Although Ribery is extremely quick and slippery, Richards is not slow at all and is powerful. Clearly Pellegrini thought that Richards could use his pace and physicality to stop the French star. This was not the case as Richards looked slow and didn't have any answers to Ribery's tricks.
Pablo Zabeletta is too a problem for Richards. Zabeletta was City's player of the season last year and nobody could complain. He seemed one of few in the last campaign who put 100% into every game and captained the side whilst Vincent Kompany was on the sidelines between January and March. The Argentine has very much established himself as a fan favourite at the Etihad and as the first choice right back. For Richards to gain himself the regular spot, it seems he would have to do something miraculous or Zabeletta to spend a long period on the sidelines.
There has been interest for the England international already. Top sides including Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle seem to be keen. However a move to any of the three is unlikely. Spurs have Kyle Walker and Liverpool have Glen Johnson, two other England right-backs who are competing for a place on the plane to Brazil. As for Arsenal, they have youngster Carl Jenkinson who has showed lots of ability and too recently called up to the England squad.
AS Roma are too looking at Richards. But, will the England star want a move to Italy? How often is Roy Hodgson going to look at how he's doing at Roma. With the World Cup so close, Richards will want to stay very much in the eye of the fans, media and most importantly the England manager.
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