Belfast Telegraph

Richards relishing scrap for places

Manchester City defender Micah Richards admits speculation about his future has been distracting but insists he is focused on the challenge ahead of him this season.

The 22-year-old has suffered a loss of form over the last couple of years and with all the comings and goings at Eastlands his future was cast into doubt. Richards finds himself under pressure from Pablo Zabaleta and new signing Jerome Boateng but he is ready to fight for his place.

"There have been lots of things said and written about my future at City this summer," he said.

"But I think from the effort I have put in during training and in the pre-season games that it is evident to everyone that I want to stay at City.

"It does affect your concentration when you are consistently linked with a move away or people are talking about you being replaced - especially as I have been here for so long.

"Sometimes you get a bit down when these things are constantly being said and I play best when I am happy and confident which I am at the moment."

Richards and Boateng swapped between centre-back and right-back in Saturday's friendly against Valencia as manager Roberto Mancini looks to get every position covered.

"The boss wanted Jerome to play in both positions and I think he did well in each of them," the England defender told mcfc.co.uk.

"He can play happily in both so I can see a battle ahead and I am well up for the challenge."

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