Richards out of City’s semi plans

The 22-year-old had hoped to be fit for the April 16 date at

Wembley after sustaining the injury on England Under-21 duty last

week – but he is expected to be out of action for between four and

six weeks. Richards told the club’s website: “It is not what I

wanted to hear at all. I felt sick when I was told. I knew from

experience when I did it that it felt like a bad one but I was

hoping for the best. “All I can do now is concentrate on getting

back as quickly as possible. I must admit I did think ‘why me?’ for

a while when I heard the news. “Of all the games to miss, a Wembley

date with United is the last one any player would choose.” Despite

the prognosis, Richards has not given up hope yet and is proceeding

with plans to install an oxygen tent in his house to speed up his

recovery. City, meanwhile, are hoping fellow full-back Jerome

Boateng will not need knee surgery after he also picked up a

serious injury on international duty. Initial reports from the

German camp suggested the 22-year-old would have to go under the

knife but City are seeking a second opinion from the club’s medical

staff. The double blow has left Roberto Mancini short of defenders

for Sunday’s clash against Sunderland at Eastlands, with Pablo

Zabaleta still on compassionate leave in Argentina and Kolo Toure

suspended, meaning youngsters Dedryck Boyata and Reece Wabara could

come into contention. A first Premier League appearance for

centre-back Wabara would be the perfect way for the 19-year-old to

celebrate his new contract. The Academy graduate on Tuesday penned

a new three-year deal having featured in the first-team squad on a

number of occasions in recent weeks. Wabara said: “I’ve been

working really hard to improve all areas of my game so I’m

delighted to have signed this new deal. “It was a big relief to

know one of the most ambitious – and soon to be biggest – clubs in

the world wants me to be part of their future. “I don’t know

whether I’ll be involved against Sunderland or not yet so I just

need to work hard and be prepared if and when I’m needed.”