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Mancini baffled by Richards absence

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says it is "strange" that Micah Richards is still not fit to return to first-team football for the club.

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Richards, 24, has not played since injuring his knee against Swansea in October and has been limited to just four appearances this season.

Mancini had expected to have the right-back available again by now and, while Richards has started training on the pitch, the Italian is finding it frustrating.

"This is strange, I don't how this is possible. We can't do anything," he said. "I hope that maybe in three or four weeks he'll be ready. His knee was not 100%, he continues to work and now he has been working for two months."

Richards is scheduled to start training with his team-mates in the next few days and could make his comeback at the end of March if he does not suffer any further setbacks.

Mancini added: "Maybe two or three weeks [when he's back]. From when he started to work with the team he needs another two weeks. I hope maybe he can start with the team next week."

Captain Vincent Kompany is another defender who has been out for longer than expected and Mancini said the Belgium international would like to face Barnsley in the FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday, but will not feature in a bid to ensure he is fit to face Everton next week.

"Calf injuries are a big problem. If you don't recover very well it can happen like it has with Vinnie," he said. "Maybe he wants to play on Saturday because he always wants to play. But we can't take this risk."

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