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Richards eager to return from injury

Manchester City's Micah Richards cannot wait to make his return from injury and stake a claim for a position in the team's starting lineup.

• Maicon defends Mancini
• Mancini 'tired' of rivals
• Jolly: City self-destruct

Richards, 24, has not featured this season after he picked up an ankle injury while on Olympic duty with Great Britain.

The England international has had to watch on the sidelines as new defenders, Maicon and Matija Nastasic, have been brought in to the club and made an impression.

But in his absence City have conceded 16 goals in eight games this season, without having kept a clean sheet, and Richards is hoping he can make an instant impact to help bolster the struggling defence.

"It was hard, having been at the Olympics and then having to miss the first four or five games - it has not been easy,'' he told City's official programme. "It is especially hard when you know there are more players coming in and there's more competition. I think you need a big squad. Sometimes last season we had a few injuries and we fell short of the mark and we didn't really get the results we needed.

"The manager's been playing a 3-5-2 system so there's more chance I'm going to play if he goes with that. But if he plays 4-4-2 it's going to be me, Zaba (Pablo Zabaleta) and Maicon battling it out for the right-back position. I don't mind as I've had competition here all my life. I've been here seven years and I'm still going, so a little bit of competition just makes it a little bit better. I just can't wait to get back and get playing to show everyone what I can do all over again.''

The injury came at an especially frustrating time for the defender after impressing last season, helping his side to the Premier League title, while also receiving the call-up to Stuart Pearce's Olympic squad.

"Winning the league was an amazing time for everyone involved at the club, but I guess it wasn't meant to be for me at the start of the season," he said. "I suppose it's part and parcel of football, injuries come with it. I think you just have to take it on the chin and get on with it really.''

Once fully fit, Richards' first aim is of course to return back to the City side, however he feels that he has some unfinished business with England and is focused on regaining a place in Roy Hodgson's squad, after the disappointment of missing out on Euro 2012.

"If you look at my form last season, when I was playing, I thought I was as good as any English full-back in the league,'' he added. "It is hard for the England manager though. He's got a lot of players to choose from and there are players in that position who are also very good - Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker, who got young player of the season.

"Again there's competition but I've always said when I'm fit and playing I believe I'm as good as anyone in the league. It's just up the manager to give me a chance and if he does I'll take it with both hands.''

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