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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

No long-term damage for Man City's Richards

Micah Richards gave England and Manchester City a boost today when it was revealed the defender's knee injury is not as bad as first feared.

According to his club 'no serious or long-term damage' has been done.

Richards, 19, was carried off on a stretcher after 73 minutes of last night's Carling Cup victory at Bolton.

However, he recovered sufficiently to tell manager Sven-Goran Eriksson he was fine when they left the Reebok Stadium.

Whether Richards will be available to face Sunderland on Monday remains unclear, but the gifted defender looks certain to recover in time for England's potentially vital Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia at Wembley on November 21.

A City spokesperson told the club's official website, 'Micah has bruised his medial meniscus cartilage in his right knee but there is no serious or long-term damage.

'His condition will continue to be assessed on a daily basis.'

Richards sustained the injury in a challenge on Bolton captain Kevin Nolan during City's 1-0 success, which sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Meanwhile, Heerenveen director Yme Kuiper has refused to comment on reports linking Afonso Alves with a move to Eastlands.

Eriksson is anxious to improve his attacking options when the transfer window opens in two months and Alves is one of several strikers he is looking at.

It has been suggested that former Heerenveen striker Georgios Samaras is being lined up as a possible makeweight in the deal.

But Kuiper was remaining tight-lipped when quizzed on the matter today.

He told the club's website: 'Obviously the rumour machine concerning Alves has come on at a pace.

'Our policy is that we do not react to rumours and that will remain this way.'

Alves joined Heerenveen from Malmo in 2006 and went on to score 34 goals in 31 games in his first season in the Eredivisie.

He missed the start of this season after stating he wanted to leave for a bigger club but has since made his peace with coach Gertjan Verbeek.

He has scored 10 goals in just four games this season, including seven in one game against Heracles Almelo.