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By ESPN Staff

Pearce urges England to stick with Richards

Stuart Pearce believes Micah Richards deserves a place in the next England squad on the strength of his debut performance for the national side.

The 18-year-old defender was widely applauded for his mature display in the draw against Holland last night.

Richards has risen rapidly through the ranks this year via Manchester City reserves and the first team.

But Pearce is not surprised at the youngster's development.

The City manager said: 'Micah is fairly strong mentally and most international squads are full up with players who have that quality.

'He did well enough in the game against Holland to suggest he should be in the next squad.

'Micah has not looked back after getting in the first team.

'He did well last season and for five to six months was very impressive in the reserve side.

'I am very pleased for Micah. What he is achieving is fantastic for him and for his family.'

Richards recently signed a four-year contract and City are keen to hang on to arguably their brightest talent in the long-term.

Pearce said: 'Hopefully he will lead our next generation of youngsters.

'The bigger sides in the league have massive squads but like us can only pick 11 players.

'Surely it is better playing week in, week out, if your form is good enough, than sitting around.

'We give youngsters every opportunity to break into the first team. If you are good enough you will get in, no matter your age.'

Richards graduated to right-back after playing first as a striker and then in midfield.

In the long term, Pearce is looking for Richards to feature at centre-back.

'When Micah gains enough experience that should be his role,' said Pearce. 'It is a position where he can influence those around him.'

On England's performance, Pearce added: 'While I was focusing on Micah, you could tell it was friendly and that took some of the gloss off the international.

'Holland is a tough place to go but I thought England were unfortunate not to win the game.'