Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has told Micah Richards that he sees him as a right-back and it would take an emergency for him to be selected as a central defender.
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England international Richards, who has played in both positions during his career, said he suspected that Pellegrini did not want to select him in the middle of the defence, but hoped to show he could operate there.
But Pellegrini believes Richards, who made his first appearance of the season in the 5-0 Capital One Cup win over Wigan on Tuesday, provides cover for first-choice right-back Pablo Zabaleta.
He said: "I know how Micah Richards can play. He came back from a long injury and he played really well. He is an important defender. When he is fit he will have options to play, because Pablo played the last seven games. I think it is good for whole team."
Pellegrini is keen to have two players for every position but sees captain Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasic, Joleon Lescott and injured summer signing Martin Demichelis as his central defenders, rather than Richards.
He explained: "I think he must be as a right-back. At centre-back we have Kompany, Nastasic, Lescott -- who played well against Wigan -- and Martin Demichelis. He [Demichelis] is injured, but we have cover in those positions with other players. I think he is a right-back. Maybe in an emergency he can play there [in the centre], but his natural position is right-back."
Pellegrini also praised Kompany for his fine form since recovering from injury. He added: "He is a very good player and the other teams know he is the captain and a very good player. Every time he plays, he demonstrates how good a player he is. That is why he gives confidence to the whole team."